City Council commissions parking study for areas of Encinitas

City Council commissions parking study for areas of Encinitas
Vehicles park alongside Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia. The Encinitas City Council approved last month a parking study for the areas of Leucadia, Cardiff and Old Encinitas. Photo by Tony Cagala

ENCINITAS — The City Council recently awarded a contract to a San Diego firm to study the parking needs and supply in the downtown areas of Leucadia, Cardiff and Old Encinitas after some debate among the council members as to how deep the study should go.

The council voted 4-0 on Dec. 16 to award a contract not exceeding $75,000 to Chen Ryan Associates that will assess the parking supply in the downtown areas, the projected parking needs and get feedback from residents as to where they see the biggest parking needs.

The contract calls for the firm to do, among other things, parking inventories during the winter and summer months to get a grasp on parking trends during the seasons, as well as host public workshops in each of the communities to get community input on the parking situation.

Originally, the public works staff recommended awarding the firm a $104,000 contract — larger than the $50,000 the City Council set aside during last year’s budget sessions for the study.

City staff said the larger contract would allow the firm to do more parking counts — 48 versus 12 under the $50,000 constraints — as well as analyze how complete streets would impact parking in those areas and develop a metered parking strategy.

The council roundly rejected the additional work, which they said would overlap a number of studies currently ongoing, including the active transportation plan, the circulation element, negotiations with the North County Transit District about parking along coastal rail right of ways and the housing element, which includes a transportation component.

“I want to make sure we are looking at all of these in a holistic way, instead of asking multiple contractors to do essentially the same thing and overlapping tasks,” Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer said.

Councilwoman Catherine Blakespear was the least supportive, as she flatly rejected to call for additional funds for the study, which she said didn’t have a clear objective. Blakespear, whose law offices are in Del Mar, also said she was opposed to any metered parking, which she faces in Del Mar.

“I am not convinced that paying for parking is right for our city,” she said.

Ultimately, it was Shaffer who suggested a very narrow scope for the study — evaluate the capacity and demand for parking.

“The basic issue is how much paring do we have, how much parking do we need and where are the places of greatest demand,” she said.

Councilman Mark Muir was absent from the last meeting of the year.

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