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The Del Mar City Council is encouraging ideas from the public about the proposed
Civic Center — including open mike at every City Council meeting
from 6:30 to 7:00 pm. To help that process, the Sandpiper is soliciting ideas from the public for the next several issues. A second is presented below. Publishing these ideas implies no endorsement by our editiors. Our goal is to broaden the community conversation. We hope to hear from more readers soon.

Clock Wise Phasing | Ideas Due June 9 | Sideways to City Hall |
Workshop 2 on June 9 | OPINION


Sideways to City Hall
Tom McGreal | Stratford Court

As we travel around we’re always observing how communities function, how people live and inevitably looking at how other communities grapple with problems similar to ours. Our most recent trip included two such observations.
We flew to Santa Rosa, CA destined for the City of Sonoma. Once in Sonoma square, all roads run directly into a large green park with beautiful plantings, the shade of old deciduous trees and a magnificent stone City Hall right in the center of the park.

Back in 1894, the City decided to create a centerpiece for its community. Although we’re clearly beyond the days when communities can build stone City Halls on eight-acre parks such as this, let’s hope Del Mar can be as proud of our proposed City Hall in the future.

We continued on to Napa tasting fine wines, enjoying great restaurants and spending time with our family. Napa is a city of 76,000 with a booming tourism industry built around the popularity of the vineyards. We were particularly impressed with the abundance of free parking on the city streets and in the many small lots located around the downtown area. They offered free 2 and 3-hour parking and all day parking. Downtown Napa also has a public / private garage with two levels of free parking near the riverfront. As tourists we found the parking experience convenient and enormously welcoming. We decided to contact the Napa City officials in the hope that we might learn some lessons from Napa’s parking strategies.

We learned that back in the 1970s as Napa was redeveloping its downtown area the City made a conscious decision to remove all parking meters, acquire open lots for parking and build a parking garage in cooperation with the County and several downtown businesses. The City believed that tourism and local business could flourish if they made free parking available.

It’s been a success, but like all growing and developing areas, parking continues to require constant attention. In fact, this year the City of Napa has embarked on a comprehensive parking review to determine how to keep pace with new development and seasonal demands.

We put our Napa City contact in touch with Kathy Garcia, Del Mar’s Planning and Community Development Director, when we learned that Napa is hiring the same parking consultant that Del Mar has hired to help with our comprehensive parking assessment.

Maybe Napa and Del Mar are facing similar challenges, but it sure feels like Napa is approaching the task from a starting position that Del Mar would envy. Free abundant parking sounds like a great outcome.


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