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Traffic group explores new ideas on parking

When the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation (T&T) Board started talking about ways to manage parking in the Village last week, conversation focused on what role the board should play.

Then it really focused on valet parking, one of 14 points outlined in the proposal.

Joe La Cava, a T&T board member and president of La Jolla Community Planning Association, explained that “the plan Ed Ward and a number of other individuals crafted was an attempt to find areas that perhaps the community could begin to provide groups to take baby steps to deal with parking issues in La Jolla.”

He said he looked at the proposal to “try to identify which ones we (T&T) could provide leadership on.”

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The plan touches on everything from not having paid on-street parking to stricter enforcement and sharing the revenue from parking enforcement between the city and La Jolla. It also calls for keeping free and open access to parks and beaches and improving public transit and shuttle services.

Another item it seeks to address is valet parking, a bone of contention for residents who perceive the service removes needed parking spaces from the available inventory.

Value in valets

Deborah Marengo, president of Promote La Jolla, and Michael Harth, president of Sunset Parking which provides valet service for George’s, Jack’s and Roppongi in the Village, said the value of valet service is underestimated.

“Residents are concerned valet zones are not being run efficiently,” said Harth, who noted the eight parking stalls his company operates during the day, 12 at night, might actually park 300 to 350 cars in a three- or four-hour period on a busy weekend evening.

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“If you were to take any of those stalls away, you’re actually putting more stress on surface roads and available public parking. Valet service takes cars off the street and puts them in private, off-street leased parking lots.”

Marengo added that “taking valet away would really create a much bigger traffic problem than La Jolla already has.”

T&T boardmember Mark Broido talked about the committee’s role in dealing with traffic and transportation issues.

“We have been a reactive group,” Broido said. “Groups come to us with problems, and hope we’ll be able to find solutions. We’re volunteers, not traffic experts. It’s easier for other groups to try to identify problems and solutions, then bring it here.”

Get involved

Orrin Gabsch, who’s been involved with parking-related issues in La Jolla for years, said he believes it’s important the community becomes more proactive rather than allow the city and its traffic engineers to take control.

“I think we know our community better than they (city) do,” said Gabsch, suggesting that an ad hoc group take the lead.

He said Monday the parking ad hoc group he suggested might not necessarily need to do all the legwork.

“People who live on each block in La Jolla, who know them the best, could make some suggestions through an ad hoc group as to what could be done to improve the parking situation on their respective blocks,” he said.

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