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City looks to create parking downtown

ENCINITAS — City Council adopted a strategy to increase parking after discussing the findings of a recent study that revealed a lack of spaces in the downtown area during its regular meeting Dec. 17.
RFB Consulting was contracted earlier this year to prepare alternative plans for increasing the parking from Encinitas Boulevard to K Street. A survey was commissioned by city officials in May to better understand the parking problems that have long plagued the downtown area and find possible solutions. At a cost of approximately $8,000, the survey showed that respondents agreed that the lack of parking was a dilemma but did not provide a clear consensus on how to fix it.
High on the list of complaints was that employees and owners were unable to find adequate parking themselves, often having to take up valuable storefront parking spaces. Moonlight Plaza hired a parking attendant to ensure that only customers of the shopping area are taking up the spaces.
The consultant also held a workshop in April to determine the public’s preference to improve downtown parking.
Among the measures suggested to the council were eliminating red curbs near intersections when possible, extending angled parking along Coast Highway 101 and using business parking lots for the general public after hours. Valet parking was also suggested.
Staff recommendations included using the former gas station near the Civic Center on Vulcan as a temporary parking lot for shoppers and moving diagonal parking on Second Street from the east side to the west side. The last option would require a use permit and could take up to one to two years to complete according to Patrick Murphy, director of the planning and building department.
The council also heard from merchants and shoppers who said the issue is crucial to the success of downtown
businesses. Dody Tucker,
executive director of
the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association, urged the council to increase the current two-hour parking limit to three hours.
The association contributes approximately $20,000 a year toward the cost of a parking enforcement officer with the city picking up the remainder of the tab. “We have had enforcement since January and it’s difficult because so many businesses have customers that require different amounts of time to get their shopping or eating done,” Tucker said in a previous interview. “You don’t have sufficient time to explore our downtown,” she said.
Among the more controversial suggestions was to require reverse-angle parking along Second Street but urged the council to look long term at constructing a parking structure at City Hall.
Tucker said DEMA did not support the reverse parking. Deputy Mayor Dan Dalager agreed. “The reverse angle parking just doesn’t float my boat,” he said.