Voters will decide on November 6 if the Village Specific Plan(VSP)
is adopted. On these pages we have invited a variety of points of view
to help clarify voter choices.
Survey Split | VSP Evolution | It Will Work | It Won’t Work
Need To Know | Parking Perplexes
Tom McGreal | Stratford Court
Photo Mike Salt
The Village Specific Plan (VSP) has been approved by the City Council and is now headed for the November 6th ballot. As we consider how the Plan might impact the quality of life in Del Mar, parking should be high on our list of concerns.
The VSP projects that Del Mar village will need 1726 public or shared parking spaces to accommodate the redeveloped village. Today we have 323 public spaces in the village. The Plan introduces a new concept called “Park Once,” which is projected to provide 1243 new public / shared spaces. Park Once is a voluntary concept whereby commercial property owners can make private parking spaces available to the public in return for relaxed development regulations. If commercial property owners choose not to participate in Park Once they will be subject to the existing Del Mar parking ordinances. The Plan also calls for 40 to 50 additional angle spaces along Camino Del Mar and commits to build a new public parking garage which will provide 200 new spaces.
As importantly, the VSP proposes a Citywide Parking Management Plan, which is scheduled as an Immediate Action for the City Council. This should address parking for residents, employees and visitors whether they are going to the village, the beach or just parking in the neighborhoods.
Although the VSP includes all the right components, the Plan does not answer some critical questions:
What happens if commercial property owners don’t adopt the Park Once plan?
The VSP relies upon Park Once to provide 72% of the required public parking spaces. If the commercial property owners choose not to participate, they will be subject to the existing Del Mar parking code, which requires from 3 to 11 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of developed space. This means that parking spaces will be provided for the private use of the customers and employees of the newly developed property, but there will be no contribution to the pool of additional public parking spaces. This would perpetuate the current problem of having plenty of private parking, but not enough public parking.
When will the public garage actually get built?
The VSP identifies the City Hall property as a likely site, but the redevelopment of City Hall is not part of the VSP and will be subject to a lengthy planning, review and public debate that could take years. Some have argued that the public garage should be closer to 15th Street where the demand for parking is the greatest. This would require negotiations with a willing property owner in a more central location. Although the VSP schedules the public parking garage as a short term action, it could take up to 10 years to complete. The demand for public parking seems more immediate.
Will the City have the political will to create a parking management plan that really addresses parking for the visitors, employees and all residents across the entire City?
The City Council has made the Citywide Parking Management Plan a priority, so now they need to deliver a plan. We’re already behind the curve because the demand for public parking exceeds today’s capacity. The development contemplated in the VSP will exacerbate the already difficult parking situation in Del Mar unless the parking capacity gets ahead of the development. Timely action by the City is needed to ensure that our neighborhoods aren’t swamped with visitors searching for parking spaces. The City will need to muster the political will and build a consensus among the residents for this to be successful; otherwise parking in Del Mar will get much worse.
Parking is only one component of a very complex Village Specific Plan, but must be carefully considered as you decide how to vote on the VSP. Parking affects everyone in Del Mar whether you’re a resident, employee, surfer, beachgoer, diner, shopper or business owner. Parking impacts the quality of life for the residents and the livelihood of the businesses. If visitors continue to view parking in Del Mar as “too much trouble,” the businesses we want to revitalize will suffer, visitors will be inconvenienced and the quality of life in Del Mar will be adversely impacted.
The resolution of these issues will depend upon future decisions and actions by the City Council, the residents, the commercial property owners and of course, the availability of funding. As a result the voters won’t have definitive answers to these questions before November 6th.