The public turned out in force for the latest meeting of La Jolla’s local parking board - too much force, it turned out, as the meeting was shut down by the fire department because the meeting room at Hotel Parisi was packed well beyond capacity. It has been rescheduled for Nov. 19 at noon at La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St.
The Nov. 14 meeting of the La Jolla Community Parking District Advisory Board drew an estimated crowd of around 200 people, as the board was expected to consider changes to its proposed pilot parking program before possibly taking action on the proposal.
Board members suggested some of the most significant changes to the proposal since it was introduced several months ago, including a suggestion from board member Mark Evans that some of the most controversial aspects of the proposal - including paid on-street parking in the Village and a permit program for nearby residential streets - be implemented on an opt-in basis, wherein business owners and residents would vote block-by-block to decide whether to participate in the program.
But the board never got a chance to consider Evans’ proposal - or a similar one from chairman Peter Wagener - before firefighters from La Jolla’s Fire Station 13 arrived and said most of the big crowd needed to clear out. The meeting room at Hotel Parisi was packed well beyond its posted capacity of 88, and another 100 or so people were crowded around the door and in the hallway attempting to listen in on the meeting.
Several members of the public complained from the start of the meeting that it should have been held in a venue that could accomodate the big turnout. One speaker specifically noted that the room was beyond capacity, while those in the hallway complained repeatedly that they couldn’t hear what was going on.
The board chose to press on with the meeting, but were only minutes into their discussion when a cheer came up from the hallway as the firefighters made their way in.
The changes to the pilot program proposed by Evans and Wagener before the meeting was cancelled would have represented the most significant alterations to the program since it was originally proposed. Evans favored changing the paid on-street parking component
Under Evans’ proposal, the implementation of two controversial aspects of the program - paid on-street parking in the Village and the permit program for nearby residential streets - would be determined voluntarily on a block-by-block basis, with a majority of business or property owners deciding whether to opt in or out of the program.
Evans said community opposition the the proposal prompted him to suggest the changes, which would put some control of the program in the community’s hands.
“There’s an overwhelming sense in the community that people object to having a program including paid parking,” Evans said. “This will allow businesses on a particular block to opt into the program.”
“It was painfully obvious to me that Ray Weiss and I were the only ones on Park Row who thought (the residential parking program) was a good idea,” Evans continued.
Wagener’s proposal also would have switched the residential program to a voluntary, opt-in/opt-out system, but differed from Evans’ proposal when it came to paid on-street parking in the Village. Wagener’s proposal would reduce the mandatory paid on-street parking area from the original proposed pilot program but maintain it in the core commercial areas on Prospect Street, Wall Street, Girard Avenue, Herschel Avenue and Ivanhoe Avenue. The remainder of the Village could opt in or out of the program on a voluntary basis under Wagener’s proposal.
Wagener said he favored maintaining some mandatory implementation of paid on-street parking in the proposal because he doubted that business owners would vote to implement it.
“I feel we will never get the signatures and there will actually be no parking program,” Wagener said.
The two board members proposals also differed slightly when it came to the distribution of parking revenues. Evans’ proposal would have made any pilot program the board recommends to the city contingent on at least 80 percent of the parking revenues returning to La Jolla.
Wagener’s proposal was more loosely worded, asking for a split of revenues “substantially greater” than the minimun 45 percent for La Jolla with a “target of 80 percent.”
Wagener said his proposal offered a greater range of acceptable revenue splits than Evans’ because he didn’t believe it was realistic that La Jolla’s local district could get 80 percent.
“Practicality dictates that it just isn’t going to be,” Wagener said. “There is just no way we’ll get 80 or 100 percent unless the other (parking) districts get it, too.”
For the complete text of the proposed pilot parking program, visit www.lajollabythesea.com/parking.