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Parking improvements slated for Solana train station

SOLANA BEACH — If all goes as planned, $25 million in parking improvements at the Solana Beach train station could be implemented by the end of the decade, a move that many consider a springboard for a long-planned mixed-use development at the site.
When the California Department of Transportation earlier this summer selected the least impactful option for a proposed expansion of Interstate 5, the San Diego Association of Governments redirected about $800 million.
That prompted Matt Tucker, executive director for North County Transit District, to create a spreadsheet outlining his project needs.
The list includes parking improvements at six stations and replacing 11 bridges, one built as early as 1911, for an estimated cost of more than $253 million.
The parking structure in Solana Beach is the second most expensive project, with double tracking from San Onofre to Pulgas expected to cost about $61 million.
NCTD has already signed a cooperative agreement with Solana Beach and is evaluating parking, pricing and options for a transit-oriented development at the site, Tucker said.
“Right now we’re vetting out the details,” he said.
Oftentimes for projects such as the one proposed in Solana Beach, transit systems don’t have enough money to pay for the required parking, Tucker said.
“This can make it work,” he said. “If NCTD can cover the parking costs, then the developer can create a revenue-generating project.”
As it is now, the lot needs improvements, Tucker said. “It’s not a managed lot,” he said. “We will mark the tires occasionally but anyone can park there.”
The new structure, which will likely be multistory, will include paid parking, but not for transit users, he said. But so far no decisions have been made.
“We will go through the process, probably in the next six months, to hold outreach sessions with the community,” Tucker said. “Then we’ll address stakeholder input and look at the financial viability. We’ve got to get everybody onboard.”
Solana Beach has been working to develop a 5.6-acre lot on North Cedros Avenue for more than 20 years.
The most recent effort came to an end in 2008 after a proposed project failed to garner City Council and community support because many said it wasn’t compatible with the city’s general plan.
Called Cedros Crossing, the $72 million mixed-use development included retail shops, restaurants, boutique office space, 141 housing units and a $19 million underground parking garage that would have added about 120 parking spaces.
Key to the project was a $6 million grant for the parking structure from Caltrans. The city lost the grant when it failed to submit approved plans by June 30, 2008.
Cedros Crossing was also slated to include affordable housing units.