Our View: Toward a healthier parking debate

We concur with Council President Scott Peters, whose First District includes La Jolla, that La Jolla’s parking board, as presently constituted, isn’t doing the job for which it was created: to arrive at a broad-based communitywide consensus on how best to manage parking in La Jolla.

We also agree with Ray Weiss, the La Jolla Town Council’s representative on the parking board, that the group was likely doomed from the start. The disproportionate representation of Promote La Jolla (PLJ) appointees on the board exacerbated longstanding distrust on the part of the residential community. Many residents became convinced - rightly or wrongly - that the real intent of the PLJ-dominated parking board has been to rubberstamp Promote La Jolla’s attempts to generate revenue.

Too often the parking debate has degenerated into namecalling. It’s not getting us anywhere.

Positions, if anything, have hardened. The vast majority - 90 percent or more - of residents and merchants alike have decided they do not favor imposing paid on-street parking at this time, even on a trial basis.

And our soon-to-be-elected representatives are getting the message: All three candidates running to replace Scott Peters for his termed-out council district seat say they oppose paid on-street parking.

Given the reality that paid parking isn’t a popular notion, and likely won’t be any time soon, wouldn’t it be best to table the proposal to institute paid parking indefinitely and try other, less extreme parking-management alternatives instead?

To be fair to those who advocate some on-street paid parking, the question of how to finance any new parking plan remains. If, as seems the case, the community has rejected the idea of paying to park on the street, the community still must face the fact that improving parking will likely have costs. Any debate going forward must address this issue.

If we’re going to reboot this communitywide parking-management discussion, let’s begin at the beginning, by creating a truly representative panel of community volunteers that is balanced, includes divergent points of view, and which can convince the community that it does not have a preconceived agenda to push. Promote La Jolla could have one representative on the parking advisory board, each of the four community planning groups could have a rep, there could be at-large reps from both the residential and merchant communities, and the district councilman/ woman could have the power to appoint an individual or two, with those appointments subject to review by the remainder of the group.

If it is perceived by the majority of La Jollans that there is a level playing field for discussion of parking management, with all sides represented, and no agendas being advanced other than finding acceptable solutions to parking problems, will we have a “climate” in which compromise and consensus-building on parking management are attainable.

After all, isn’t that what this “process” started two years ago to find ways to manage parking in La Jolla is supposed to be about?