Some push back was encountered during a Nov. 5 meeting on the proposed implementation of a year-long parking meter pilot study in the densest part of Garnet Avenue’s commercial district in Pacific Beach.
Regina Sinsky-Crosby, chair of the PB Parking Advisory Board, presented detailed plans for creating a parking pilot program using new technology, not old-style metal meters.
“The Community Parking District was established in Pacific Beach by the City Council in June 2005,” she said. “The goals are to address ongoing traffic concerns and identify issues with PB parking inventory, how difficult it is to park at certain times on Garnet, specifically weekends and prime business hours.”
The Parking Advisory Board’s roster is drawn from PB Planning Group, PB Town Council, Discover PB, beautifulPB, and at-large neighborhood delegates representing the four quadrants of PB.
“The Pacific Beach community has control over parking in our community,” noted Sinsky-Crosby. “Our community controls when, how, how much, how long metered parking would go into PB. Street parking is a resource we all share.
“There’s not enough available street parking during peak times, especially for retailers on Garnet. Within that two-hour commercial zone, drivers will cruise the neighborhood to find parking. This causes traffic congestion on Garnet and the adjacent streets.”
Added Sinsky-Crosby: “The parking pilot is limited to 321 two-hour-or-less-time-limited spaces in the commercial zone. CPD paid parking will help solve traffic problems. It’s a management solution and tool. It’s a revenue stream for Pacific Beach that stays in PB.
“Benefits are keeping a chunk of that revenue from parking in PB, funding community improvement projects, increasing turnover for prime parking, increasing space availability, reducing traffic congestion, and increasing pedestrian safety.”
Based on emailed feedback for the paid parking pilot program, 14 businesses surveyed inside the pilot area are in support and none are against. Twenty-three businesses did not respond to the survey and 10 businesses did not have contact information available. Five businesses outside the pilot zone support and one is against.
Based on 13 public community meetings and events held since September, 18 residents have written to the PAC against parking and 15 have written in support. Three have written neutral suggestions for the pilot.
Reaction to the pilot parking proposal was strong on Nov. 5, both for and against.
“Now is not the time for Discover PB to pursue parking meters on Garnet, Hornblend, and Cass streets,” said PB resident Greg Daunoras after the meeting. “Our businesses need all the customers they can without additional cost burdens.”
“Parking meters increase turnover, it’s just a fact,” argued one Zoom participant. “We have so much control over how we design this plan.”
“Would you like me to come over to your block and put up parking meters without even considering what you’d like?” asked Gordon Froehlich, a Parking Advisory Board member representing PB’s northwest quadrant.
“If you place meters on Garnet in the commercial area people are going to be parking right in front of our house,” insisted another resident living near Garnet’s commercial district.
Reacting to a comment about residential parking permits, Sinsky-Crosby replied: "The Parking Advisory Board is not proposing residential parking permits under the current pilot. However these types of annual, residential paid permits have been suggested by residents in several meetings. The Parking Advisory Board will be forming an ad hoc committee to explore residential parking permits in the future. But this is not part of the current pilot.”
“Paid parking forces cars into the non-paid areas: That’s just a fact,” argued another participant.
“Does it matter to anyone on the board that the overwhelming majority of the community is vehemently opposed to this?” queried one parking meter opponent. “Nobody wants this. The fact that you’re trying to push this, sneak this through during a pandemic with these little Zoom meetings.”
“The resident's opinion that ‘nobody wants this’ is false,” reacted Sinsky-Crosby after the meeting.
“Every PB community group that has voted on this issue has voted in favor of the pilot. It is supported by PB Planning Group (9-3 vote on Nov. 11), beautifulPB (unanimous), Discover PB's board of directors (one vote against), and PB Town Council, which voted unanimously in favor.”
Brian Curry, co-owner of a PB fitness facility, spoke in favor of the parking meter pilot.
“The program is in conformance with the eco-district that we have in PB that discourages motorized transportation and encourages non-motorized transportation in PB, and actually is a companion to the City’s Climate Action Plan,” Curry said. “In the end, money does matter. Many of us have been trying forever to get some type of funding vehicle in PB. To me, the business district is the sore spot in PB. We need to improve our business district. This is an opportunity to do that.”
PB resident and business owner Kristin Victor concurred that parking-meter revenue could improve the community's business district shaping its future character.
“I’m an advocate for mobility and cycling and my dream is actually to have Garnet Avenue with no cars at all,” she said. “What’s most important right now is that Garnet Avenue is clean and safe. And that is something the parking-meter revenue will allow.”
Discover PB executive director Sara Berns talked about where PB’s proposed parking pilot project goes from here.
“The parking proposal will have to be docketed on the City Council agenda and approved by the council,” she said. “There is no timeline for that. It would just depend on when the council decided to hear it. At that point, if it passes, the one year (duration) would start once meters are installed, which could take a month or two after approval.”