ENCINITAS — The Encinitas traffic commission may consider a nighttime parking ban on a street plagued by crowding and other problems, the group decided Monday.
City officials and residents for months have grappled with the mounting issues along Seacrest Way and several adjacent cul de sacs, which prompted the residents to petition the city to establish a residents-only parking zone along Seacrest, Sea View Court and Pacific View Lane.
After an hour-long discussion at the traffic commission, the commission decided to request staff bring back a hybrid plan that would bar parking along Seacrest from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and create a residents-only parking zone along the two other streets.
“I think this idea is a great starting point,” Traffic Commission Chairwoman Maryam Babaki said. “It addresses the issue at many levels.”
With the commission’s direction, staff will bring an item back for the commission’s formal consideration. If the commission votes in favor of the concept, the City Council will weigh in on it following a public hearing.
The biggest issue that residents and city officials have struggled with have stemmed from the 262-unit Essex Heights apartment complex, which appears to be the source of many of the parking problems.
Changes in the complex’s parking policies appear to have forced a number of residents to park their cars along the public street rather than in the complex’s parking lot.
A residents-only parking district would not address the issues because the Essex Heights residents would still be entitled to the street parking, several of the commissioners pointed out.
Additionally, the so-called “parking district” would create a number of ramifications for residents, such as limiting parking for guests.
The city has one other parking district, adjacent to Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas, where residents along Devonshire Drive complained that hospital employees were using the residential street for parking rather than the hospital’s parking structure.
The pilot district was fraught with problems early on, Sheriff’s officials said. First, residents complained the city wasn’t enforcing the new rules. Then, residents complained that their guests were hit with tickets for not having a guest parking permit.
“It doesn’t make anybody happy,” Sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Tomaiko said of parking districts. “If there is another way to solve the problem, I would say let’s look at the other options. I would say this is a last resort, if nothing else is possible.”
Commissioners and residents agreed that a nighttime ban along Seacrest Way, coupled with a permit district, would eliminate the problems from their street, but could create parking ramifications along other nearby streets, or could force the apartment complex to revise its parking standards.
City staff has been investigating the parking issue for the past few months, as residents’ calls for city intervention have gained volume and frequency.
Neighbors have complained that in addition to the parking, other issues such as trash, drug paraphernalia and condoms have been found on the street, along with some cars parking along the stretch for days at a time.