Tom McGreal | Stratford Court
During the course of the Village Specific Plan discussions, we were again reminded about the importance of having a parking plan for Del Mar that will accommodate the many visitors, beachgoers, employees and residents. To address the parking issue, the City Council included the creation of a citywide comprehensive parking management plan as an “immediate action” in the Village Specific Plan. On October 22nd the City Council kicked off the Parking Plan discussion and reviewed a new staff report that offered recommendations as to how the City should proceed.
Hopefully, the City will continue this effort despite the fact that Prop J did not win voter approval on November 6th. In fact, the City should take this opportunity to establish a long term citywide parking plan that will guide future efforts to revitalize our village and manage the impact on the residential neighborhoods.
This won’t be the first effort to address parking in Del Mar. Past efforts included surveys in 2012 and 1999 – 2000, which determined that on-street public parking is often fully occupied while private parking is underutilized. In addition the Traffic and Parking Advisory Committee (TPAC) presented a draft plan to the city in 2012. This prior work provides some starting facts and certain ideas that should be helpful.
Finding the right solutions for parking in Del Mar will be challenging. Parking requirements peak dramatically when the beaches are busy, while the fair is open and during the race season. Parking challenges in Del Mar differ significantly by area starting with the village, the beach area, the neighborhoods adjacent to the village like Luneta or Stratford, up on the hill or off San Dieguito Rd. Businesses don’t generally have sufficient parking for their employees, so parking for employees tends to spill into the nearby residential areas. Finally, the very shoppers and diners we are trying to attract continue to struggle to find convenient parking.
Below are some of the issues that should be addressed in a successful citywide parking plan:
As a first step, the City should outline its goals and objectives for a citywide parking plan including the financial objectives. Let’s be clear about the extent to which parking is intended to raise City revenues from visitors and residents.
A citywide parking management plan should be structured as an overriding plan that will then guide the incremental implementation of the plan in the village, near the beach and the residential neighborhoods of Del Mar.
The plan should address policy issues such as whether the City intends to create Parking Districts, what the plans are for public or public / private parking garages and whether or not the City believes it is necessary to introduce a residential parking pass concept.
The plan must focus on public safety issues. For example, many streets in Del Mar have no sidewalks, so parking on both sides of the street is quite dangerous for pedestrians and could potentially impede emergency vehicles.
A citywide parking plan must also maintain parity for all Dell Mar residents, so that no particular neighborhoods bear the brunt of costs or regulations.
Finally, the residents should have a prominent role in the conception and development of the parking plan to ensure the needed buy-in and agreement.
This is a longstanding issue in Del Mar that we can now address in a comprehensive way. The City has indicated that it will complete the planning process over the next eight months, so now is the time for residents to begin paying attention to the this important topic. Watch for City announcements of future TPAC meeting dates and agenda items in future City Council Meetings.