Residents criticize employee parking sub-plan

Residents criticize employee parking sub-plan
A proposal to designate spaces in residential neighborhoods for employee parking was highly criticized by residents. Councilman Dwight Worden, who made the recommendation, said in hindsight it was a not a good idea. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

DEL MAR — Designate spaces on 11th through 13th streets between Camino del Mar and Stratford Court or Maiden Lane as employee parking.

That recommendation in a draft “sub-plan” presented at the March 2 meeting resulted in about two dozen emails from residents expressing their opposition to the proposal and an apology from its author.

“On-street employee parking should NOT be designated in front of residences,” Tom and Claire McGreal wrote. “The residential neighborhoods accommodate residents and visitors at present, and parking on 11th, 12th and 13th Streets is already at capacity.

“These neighborhoods are full of 8000 square foot lots with two homes on many lots,” their email states. “There is NO parking in the alleys, so the 50 foot street frontage of these lots must accommodate up to 4 cars of the two residences, as well as the vehicles of visitors and tradespersons to these homes.

“Further, businesses want to continue to allow their patrons to park in spaces closest to their business, without a limit of two hours,” the McGreals added. “Please, leave parking in the residential neighborhood streets available to the residents, business patrons, surfers and visitors to the residences, as it is now.”

Joe and Alice Sullivan called the plan the “proverbial Camel’s nose under the tent.”

“We don’t see how this would improve the quality of life for residents,” they wrote.

Mary and John Giebink, who live on Stratford Court, said the proposal “formally takes away visitor parking and awards it to employees.”

One resident was shocked by the plan and others said it would set a “terrible precedent” and be “very detrimental to the residential neighborhoods.”

“We are opposed to employees parking on our neighborhood streets!” Jill Cary wrote. “City employees keep away! Respectively reconsider this high handed incursion!”

Ed and Rolande Fyfe made a simple request. “We kindly ask you to find a better solution,” they wrote.

Councilman Dwight Worden, who made the recommendation, apologized after reading the comments.

“I look at it now and I see you guys are absolutely right,” he said. “I’m convinced … we would never want to put the employees in the residential areas.

“I’ll plead guilty,” he added. “I’m the guy that did a wee bit of                                        sloppy drafting.”

In February City Council endorsed a draft set of parking goals for four parking user groups: employees, business patrons, recreational users such as beachgoers and residents.

The overall objective is to adopt a citywide parking management plan that addresses each group using tools and strategies from the draft downtown parking management plan to encourage parking behavior consistent with the adopted goals.

Council members are seeking input from residents, the Planning Commission and the Traffic and Parking Advisory, Business Support Advisory and Finance committees on how best to change parking behaviors.

Worden and Councilman Terry Sinnott are working with staff to prepare draft sub-plans that can be used to further the adopted goals.

The first of those sub-plans addresses employee parking.

In addition to Worden’s well-intended but highly criticized proposal, the sub-plan suggests several other short-, mid- and long-term strategies such as parking permits, designated spaces at City Hall, implementing a shuttle service and using the post office and train station.

In their email the McGreals stated support for using permits and other available lots.

Resident Bill Michalsky said the “shuttle is a great idea, but who the hell is going to pay for that?”

“That’s an expensive program to run on an annual basis,” he said. “You might get a subsidy one or two years but then what? Do you just pull the plug on it?”

Michalsky also opposed a proposal to designate existing spaces under L’Auberge Del Mar for employee parking.

Councilman Don Mosier said the sub-plan was a good start.

“You don’t solve a problem that’s basically 40 years old overnight, but I think you’ve got to start working and this is a good first step,” he said. “This is the kind of problem where nobody’s going to be happy with the end result. If you can just get most people sort of happy then it’ll be a big success because there’s going to be some compromises.”

Worden agreed.

“This has been a good start,” he said. “It’s what we wanted. We wanted your critical comments. This is a flexible document. We’re going to revise it and send it on to the advisory committees and see what they think of it.”

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