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Parking Board votes to move forward with pilot program

A controversial plan to manage parking in La Jolla is now up for public comment, and could be on its way to our local streets.

The La Jolla Community Parking District Advisory Board voted Sept. 19 to propose a pilot program for managing parking in La Jolla that would include paid on-street parking in most of the Village and in some beach areas, as well as new time limits on some residential streets near the Village. The public now has until the group’s Nov. 14 meeting to comment on the proposed pilot program before the Advisory Board takes a final vote.

The pilot program as currently drafted would implement a two-hour time limit and paid on-street parking on Village streets including Prospect Street, Fay Avenue, Girard Avenue, Herschel Avenue, Ivanhoe Avenue, Silverado Street, Kline Street, Jenner Street and Wall Street. The first 30 minutes would be free, with the next 90 minutes costing $1.50.

The pilot program as currently drafted would also implement a new two-hour time limit on residential streets near the Village, including Ivanhoe Avenue from Virginia Way to Torrey Pines Road, Exchange Place from Prospect Street to Virginia Way, all of Park Row, High Avenue from Virginia Way to Torrey Pines Road and Virginia Way from Prospect Place to Torrey Pines Road. The time limit would be enforced from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and residents could purchase up to two permits that would exempt them from the time limits for $14 each.

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The beach areas along Coast Boulevard would be subject to new time limits and paid on-street parking. On weekdays, the time limit would be four hours at $1.50 per hour. Weekends and holidays would be subject to a nine-hour time limit at $1 per hour.

The proposal was the subject of extended debate at the Sept. 19 meeting. Advisory Board member Paul Metcalf said the proposal was only the beginning of that debate.

“I’m persuaded that there is a problem in La Jolla, and it’s varied and has different solutions,” Metcalf said. “This pilot program is a good way to evaluate what our ideas are on how to solve the problem.”

Orrin Gabsch said he was skeptical of the provision in the pilot program that calls for it to sunset automatically after one year unless its success can be demonstrated through parking turnover rate, sales revenues in the Village and input from property owners, merchants and residents.

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“I think it’s going to be difficult to get it to sunset once it goes in,” Gabsch said. “We have changes to the (planned district ordinance) that have been down at the city for 10 years and haven’t gone in.”

A divide appeared to emerge between local restaurateurs and retailers in their feelings on the proposal. Bill Berkeley, owner of Jack’s La Jolla, and George Hauer of George’s California Modern, both spoke in favor of the program. Berkeley said the current 60-minute time limit on some spaces in the Village was unfriendly to business, while Hauer focuses on the improvements to the local streetscape that could be paid for with parking revenues.

“The quality of everything that goes on in La Jolla has diminished,” Hauer said. “We live in one of the most affluent communities in the United States. If we have to pay $150 a year to allow us to spend money to fix the streetlights and sidewalks and improve the community and bring in businesses, I’m willing to pay.”

But retailer Nancy Warwick of Warwick’s Bookstore sent the Advisory Board a petition with more than 1,600 signatures opposing the pilot program. Tom Cerruti, a longtime attorney for retail companies, said his clients are unanimously opposed to paid on-street parking. Joe Porteous, an employee at Warwick’s, said the pilot would put a strain on Village employees.

Ray Trippi of the San Diego Police Department then addressed the board and said the pay-and-display parking meters envisioned in the pilot plan make enforcement difficult compared to single-stall parking meters.

“There are a lot of issues with convertible vehicles, motorcycles, tall vehicles,” he said. “It’s between eight and 40 times more time-consuming than single-head meters.”

The next meeting of the Parking District Advisory Board will be held Oct. 17 at 9 a.m. at Hotel Parisi, 1111 Prospect St. The board’s final vote on the pilot program will be held Nov. 14 at 9 a.m. at Hotel Parisi. After that vote, the San Diego City Council will make the final decision on whether to implement the pilot program.