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Parking board reluctant to rule on valet issue

After questioning their role in dealing with individual parking issues in La Jolla at their second meeting, the board members of the La Jolla Community Parking District have a much clearer idea of their mandate after receiving a specific message from city representatives at their third.

At its last monthly meeting, the board heard from the owner of the new Jack’s La Jolla restaurant on Girard Avenue and from a city traffic engineer debating how many spaces Jack’s would need to run its valet parking operation. The city had recommended setting aside two spaces in front of Jack’s for the operation during the day and four spaces at night. Restaurant owner Bill Berkeley argued that he needed double that number of spaces to effectively run the operation.

The La Jolla Community Parking District was formed in June 2005 to oversee all parking issues in the community. It has the authority to collect and spend parking-related revenues, but as of the last meeting it was unclear if the board would weigh in on specific cases like the valet operation at Jack’s.

Two other local groups - the La Jolla Traffic and Transportation Board and the La Jolla Community Planning Association - had already weighed in on the issue, siding with Berkeley and supporting four valet spaces for Jack’s in the daytime and eight at night. The parking district board chose to defer to those votes until it could more clearly define its role and set its own valet parking policy.

At the most recent meeting, however, the parking district board learned that the city was not satisfied with that course of action.

“The city is not happy,” said Chanelle Barry, community representative for City Councilman Scott Peters. “They want this board to take a position on the issue.”

Barry said that other community parking districts in San Diego, including those in Old Town and downtown, handle specific cases of parking policy and that the city expected the La Jolla district to do the same.

Several board members felt that the city was asking too much of the board at just its third monthly meeting.

“We will weigh in on these things, eventually,” board member Ken King said. “I think it’s very unfair for the city to say that at one of our first meetings we have to take a stand.”

Board member Paul Metcalf made a motion to reaffirm the position taken by the Traffic and Transportation Board and Community Planning Association, but with added language to show that the community parking district intended to form its own valet policy and might revisit the matter.

Board member Mark Evans disagreed with the motion.

“I don’t think I have enough basis to make a judgement,” Evans said. “They want us to say something just for the sake of saying something.”

Board member Ray Weiss suggested that the board did not have to bow to the city’s request for a vote on the matter.

“Suppose we don’t let the city force us into making a decision?” Weiss said.

Board member Martin Mosier said he thought avoiding a vote would jeopardize the legitimacy of the parking district.

“That would put us in limbo,” Mosier said. “The city would just say, ‘Oh, another La Jolla group that can’t make up their minds about anything.’ ”

Board member Yvette Marcum also favored taking some kind of action.

“They’re just trying to get us to show some teeth and actually make a decision,” she said.

Mosier suggested that the timing of specific parking issues would have to be worked out between the community groups.

“I don’t mind taking up the issue but the CPA shouldn’t take it up before we’ve made our recommendation,” he said.

The board voted 7-1 in favor of Metcalf’s motion to reaffirm the decisions made by the other community groups until the board can form its own valet parking policy.

Much of the meeting was devoted to setting the board’s standing rules and policies. The board also held a brainstorming session to identify what exactly are the parking issues in La Jolla that need addressing.

Board member Reza Ghasemi said he loses business in the Village because his customers don’t have time to search for parking.

Board member Ray Weiss disagreed.

“I honestly believe that it’s not hard to find a place to park any time of day, because I’m willing to walk a block,” he said.

The parking district meets at 8 a.m. on the second Thursday of each month. For more information, call (858) 454-5718.