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Will metered on-street parking come to La Jolla?

Ed Ward

La Jolla Resident

The multi-table discussions were led by the LJPDAB members. The LJPDAB and Promote La Jolla (PLJ) attendees did their best to answer questions and to “sell” the few general public attendees on their proposed “paid-on-street” parking solutions. Several of us attended both Forums. Generally, the “general public” strongly opposes metered on-street parking. A few of us were so concerned, we went to the 20 June LJPDAB meeting to see if they would hear us.

“It is not a matter of if, it is only a matter of when,” according to the majority of the La Jolla Parking District Advisory Board (LJPDAB). Two of the braver Board members indicated they may not be fully convinced paid-on-street parking should be done first, but they did suggest that it was “inevitable.” One Board member noted that he believed it was “the right thing to do,” but would vote against it if he could be convinced that 65 to 70 percent of the people he represents opposed it. When asked how that could be determined, he gave no real reply. Another Board Member is credited with stating that he “did not care what others wanted, he will vote for paid on-street parking because he wants it.”

So why does the LJPDAB and PLJ want paid-on-street parking to be an integral part of their “Plan,” when nearly everyone, residents and merchants, oppose it?

Follow the money!

La Jolla does not receive any of the revenue from the enforcement of parking regulations. All of it goes to the City of San Diego. However, with a Parking Agreement, approved by the City, the La Jolla Parking District Advisory Board (LJPDAB) expects to capture X percent of revenues collected from the meter devices to be installed in La Jolla. The LJPDAB is looking to get millions from meter devices, residential parking permits, valet parking fees, etc. The LJPDAB has created a multiple million dollar Budget, but it has no revenue, yet.

Follow the money.

It appears most of the Parking Board have become “Disciples” of Donald Shoup, the UCLA author of the book, “The High Cost of Free Parking,” where his outdated data, and illogical conclusions tell us you should have 10-15% on-street spaces available at all times. Thus, the higher the cost of parking, the higher the turnover of spaces. However, some people conclude that to mean there will be fewer clients, fewer visitors, fewer shoppers and fewer diners. La Jolla may get more open parking spaces for the few that can afford to pay for parking. The elite win. The “non-Disciples,” have seen through the outdated data of his studies and the illogical examples of New York City, Westwood in LA, and Old Pasadena.

What is the real goal here? Is it actually “parking management,” or is it really about more revenue? Who and how will that money be managed and how spent?

Follow the money.

Some La Jollans may admit that parking spaces can be scarce “at peak times, on peak days, at peak locations,” but not at all times and not at all locations. Thus, you can not justify the simple conclusion that “La Jolla has a parking problem.” It may have “peaks of scarcity,” but La Jolla is not New York or Los Angeles, or even Old Pasadena.

The overly simplified solution of the LJ Parking Board seems to be, “Let us first go to paid on-street parking, along with some other measures. Let us work to achieve 10-15% on-street vacancy.” However, when you consider the “greed factor,” is it logical that La Jolla will get most of the money, or will the city?

The issues that surround the “parking problems of La Jolla” are complex, historical and mostly self-imposed.

First and foremost, too many employees in La Jolla are parking on the streets, which deny the visitors, shoppers and diners places to park. The City of San Diego does not provide effective enforcement of current parking regulations. We need effective enforcement, something other than chalking the tires, which is greatly abused. What will make future City enforcement any better?

Second, businesses have been allowed to build or expand their facilities without being required to provide off-street parking for an appropriate number of their clients, shoppers, diners and employees. Much of this is due to poorly designed City parking and transit regulations. The La Jolla business district was added to the City’s transit overlay zone, which reduced the parking requirements of most buildings. Now, the MTDB has recently reduced their transit services for La Jolla. One result of this City policy was that when three new restaurants went into one building, the parking requirement for that building was actually reduced. These City policy changes have added to the parking issues.
Third, stores and restaurants do not offer enough off-street parking incentives to their customers, such as validated parking, or parking lot validation for their employees. The “cause and effect” is obvious, the solution should be obvious.

Fourth, the existing “time restricted and special zones” are poorly designed, not effective for many locations, and allow evening workers to park at 4:00pm for the entire evening without enforcement. These zones need to be re-engineered.

It is generally concluded and accepted that much of the on-street parking issues are caused by the abuse of La Jolla employees that can park freely and erase chalk marks all day. Yet, these same employees and employers are not being held responsible or accountable for causing any on-street parking issues.
Let us first fix the real root causes of what some refer to as “The La Jolla parking problem”. Let us get the time limit abusers, i.e., the tire chalk erasers, off our streets through better enforcement and let us fix the time zones.Next, let us encourage restaurants and businesses to offer off street parking to their customers with parking validations, not just valets. And, let us also work with the residents of streets near the business district that are impacted by employee parking to develop a residential parking plan to ease their problem.Lastly, let us not tax the general public with metered on-street parking, just because that is the easiest approach. That spreads the problem across all residents and visitors. Let us fix the root cuases.Paid on-street parking is coming to La Jolla = unless you object.