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Parking board votes to move ahead with current draft plan

La Jolla’s community parking board briefly discussed feedback it received at two recent public forums before voting to proceed with efforts to turn its current draft plan into reality.

The La Jolla Community Parking District Advisory Board’s June 20 meeting at the Athenaeum began with a discussion of two public forums held in June at La Jolla Recreation Center. The meeting ended with the board voting to put out a request for proposals from professional parking consultants to determine how much it will cost to turn the board’s draft into a concrete plan that is ready to be implemented. The board set a deadline of Aug. 15 for its request for proposals.

The draft plan - which calls for paid on-street parking in high-demand areas, residential permit programs in some neighborhoods, increased fees for businesses using parking spaces for valet services, improved enforcement and encouraging mass transit - was widely criticized at the forums, with most objections focused on the paid on-street parking aspect of the plan.

Parking District Advisory Board- member Mark Evans said some of the feedback from the forums changed his thinking on the subject.

“I found my impressions shaped a bit,” he said. “I drifted toward the notion that, to the extent that we implement the format we have laid out (in the draft proposal), we should implement it in phases. Whether it’s limited paid parking in the first phase or none, it ought to be done in stages.”

Other board members quickly questioned whether a phased implementation of the plan could be done.

“It would be great if we could do everything in phases,” board member Reza Ghasemi said. "(But) every community group has difficulty accepting to do their part.”

Tiffany Sherer of Promote La Jolla also questioned whether a phased rollout of the plan would be possible.

“How do we implement the other parts of the plan without paid on-street parking?” she said. “People say we should try to encourage (Village) employees to park underground. We’re basically told that they’re not interested in that because it’s free on the street.”

Evans said he would favor a computerized system that adjusted pricing for paid on-street parking depending on demand, so that parking would be free when plenty of spaces were available. The board agreed that such technology was desirable and available.

“The question is, ‘How much?’ ” board chair Peter Wagener said. “What are we going to have to pay for that?”

Some public attendees of the meeting did not like the course of the discussion.

“I’ve been under the impression that it’s not the intent of this group to make money,” Mary Coakley said. “All the discussion I’m hearing is about money.”

Coakley and others have argued that better enforcement of existing parking regulations would solve La Jolla’s parking problems. Board member Martin Mosier said the city wouldn’t provide it.

“If the city wanted better enforcement, they’d have given it to us,” Mosier said. “The city views enforcement as revenue-neutral.”

Mosier said a new parking enforcement vehicle and a GPS-enabled monitoring system could improve enforcement in La Jolla - at a price tag of $100,000.

The board then moved to discussions of how much of the parking revenue generated in La Jolla it should ask be sent back to the local district from the city. Board member Marty McGee said the board should ask that 80 to 90 percent of local parking revenue remain in La Jolla. Sherer said the city would prefer that local districts be more project-oriented in their requests for funds, rather than focusing on percentages of revenue.

“They want to see what we want to fund,” she said.

Wagener agreed.

“If we were to say we wanted to buy the lot across from Sak’s, which is an $8 million project, we’d get 70 percent (of parking revenue) for a long time,” he said. “And we’d have 80 to 90 new off-street spaces.”

The board then heard from Anne Cleveland, who said that the implementation of paid on-street parking was a burden for her business in Mission Hills.

“It didn’t create more spaces,” she said.

Several board members said the situation is different in Mission Hills because there are no other places for drivers to park. A main objective of the La Jolla board’s plan is to pressure employees of Village businesses to either carpool or find underground parking, which is not an option in Mission Hills. Mosier also said that sales tax revenues have gone up in every city that has implemented a system like the one proposed in La Jolla.

Another public speaker lamented that locals would have to pay to run quick errands in the Village. Sherer said that parking is free before 11 a.m. in some places with a similar system, allowing locals to run their errands for free in the morning. That could be included in a pricing plan for La Jolla, she said.

The next meeting of the La Jolla Community Parking District Advisory Board will be held July 18 at 9 a.m. at the Athenaeum, 1008 Wall St.