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Village bus pass program stalls

Efforts by La Jolla’s Coastal Access and Parking Board to take back control of parking and bus passes that had been coordinated by Promote La Jolla hit a minor roadblock late in the week.

Made up of representatives of La Jolla Town Council, La Jolla Community Planning Association and Promote La Jolla, the reconstituted parking board’s first action was to approve a limited extension of a discounted bus pass program aimed at relieving traffic congestion in the Village.

But that decision had to later be rescinded when interim Chairman Joe LaCava discovered that only full nine-month commitments, not the three-month extension the parking board approved, are being accepted.

The board had to consider only a three-month extension because more than $60,000 it had put in a bank account with Promote La Jolla - which has been administering the program - was taken by First Republic Bank as payment for an overdue PLJ line of credit.

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“It places us back where we thought we were earlier this month; that is, parking passes as our only active program,” LaCava said.

The Coast Access program has used money from a fund created with developer fees to help underwrite parking permits and bus passes for Village employees.

The Coastal Access board had discontinued meetings a couple of years ago because its members felt the group’s mission was duplicating the function of the La Jolla Community Parking Board sponsored by then-Councilman Scott Peters. Primarily because of the PLJ predicament, which had been administering the pass/permit program, the group’s former members decided to regroup.

The nine-member parking board has two caches of money to use.

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“This board was created to provide local decision-making on how to spend what is now totaling about $400,000 originally collected by the California Coastal Commission as mitigation for several larger (development) projects, like Best Western Hotel, that were built in the Village in the ‘80s,” said LaCava. “This money was collected because we knew these large projects were going to affect parking and people’s ability to access the coast.”

The parking board agreed they want to continue purchasing 100 to 110 monthly parking passes at a discount from local surface and below-grade parking lot operators and sell them at cost. It was noted however that those sales are slowing as fewer employers are purchasing passes for their employees.

“With the state of the economy there are high vacancies in most buildings that have parking garages,” noted La Jolla landlord and board member Bob Collins.

“This might be an ideal time to renegotiate the cost of parking in those buildings.”

LaCava also noted that half of the $400,000 pool of saved money the parking board has to work with is reserved for providing remote parking or shuttle service for the Village. The board has studied the concept in the past but has not found a way to make it work because of costs and the lack of a spot where cars could park and pick up riders.