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Parking Puzzle Pieces
Tom McGreal | Stratford Court

See also:  Spaced Out | Parking Puzzle Pieces
by Tom McGreal

Parking in Del Mar.  Cartoon John Dempsey.
Click on images to enlarge.

Parking Puzzle Pieces

It may be hard to find a convenient parking spot in Del Mar, but it’s even harder to find a parking management plan that everyone can agree upon.
At the January 5th City Council meeting the staff issued a ninety-two page report on parking management for the downtown area. Additional reports will be required later this year for four other neighborhoods before we get a comprehensive citywide plan.

After a lengthy discussion the Council reconfirmed the importance of completing a comprehensive citywide parking management plan. They concluded that the plan must:

1) Define the problem for residents, business patrons, employees and beach visitors

2) Describe what a parking solution should accomplish for each of these groups

3) Decide upon solutions (with implementation timeframes and costs)
This is a good start, but if you listen to almost any debate about parking in Del Mar, there are always three arguments that get raised that cloud the real issues and never seem to get answered. The City should take the time to definitively address these arguments so that we can understand the facts:

Del Mar ‘s parking problem is really a “parking distribution” problem. There may be a lot of underutilized private parking in Del Mar, but the City has been unsuccessful thus far in convincing the owners to share the parking with other businesses or make it available to the public. If these private parking spaces are not going to be made available to the public, then let’s stop including them as potential public parking. The City should talk to the owners and make a final determination.

The staff report to city Council indicates that “management strategies” will generate 100 parking spaces (or 50% of the spaces the report indicates we need downtown). The City should focus on creating “actual parking spaces” while the development of City Hall project and the Shores property are up for discussion. This is where we have a real chance to build a reservoir of parking for the downtown area. Management strategies (reallocating existing parking spaces) may be a source of incremental parking, but they’re not the primary solution.
We should fully understand the seasonal nature of the parking problem.
We all know that the worst parking problem exists in the summer, so parking policies should be targeted to the seasonal influx. The City staff report however, addresses the year round parking shortage based upon an assessment of supply and demand. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking it’s just a summer problem. We should rely upon the statistics and data developed by the staff to define the overall problem.

Hopefully, the City can address these issues once and for all so that the citywide parking management plan can be constructed based upon real facts.


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