Planners eye ways to ease parking crush
by DAVE SCHWAB
Mar 07, 2014 | 1469 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pacific Beach planners got a crash course in parking management from city planning director Bill Fulton and heard an update on an upcoming eco-district workshop at their February meeting.

Pacific Beach Planning Group (PBPG) chairman Brian Curry said a subcommittee is being assembled to study the possibility of forming a new Pacific Beach parking district to “look into ways to make PB a better place.” Residential parking permits, parking meters and a local shuttle are some of the ideas the subcommittee could consider, Curry said.

Planners Paul Falcone and Chris Olson volunteered to be representatives on the new parking subcommittee, which is being spearheaded by Elvin Lai, president of Discover PB.

“We are looking for the four at-large members from all over Pacific Beach,” said Lai, noting the community will be split into four quadrants, with one representative to be selected from each quadrant.

In introducing Fulton, Curry said Fulton has a long and impressive resume, which includes being an expert urban planner and author, as well as being the former mayor of Ventura.

“He is an advocate of smart growth and an expert urban planner who’s authored ‘Guide To California Planning,’ the standard textbook on urban planning,” Curry said.

Taking his cue, Fulton launched into a PowerPoint presentation to discuss how parking problems were tackled — and resolved — in Ventura. He noted there are similarities — and differences — between Ventura’s parking issues and those confronting Pacific Beach.

Fulton said Ventura’s parking problem wasn’t that there weren’t enough spaces, but rather that they were unevenly dispersed and weren’t being used to full advantage.

Fulton said the standard approach to resolving parking problems is “more about enforcement of time limits [meter maids] and more about parking supply [garages].” But he said a better approach is not to piecemeal parking, but rather to look at the big picture of how it’s distributed and used throughout the entire area.

“If you don’t think of it as a system, you give people the wrong incentives to do the wrong things,” Fulton said, noting downtown Ventura’s traffic jam was cleared up by “select use of paid parking and by providing monetary incentives to park a couple blocks away in garages.”

The first step in managing parking in Ventura, said Fulton, was to document exactly where parking was available, showing where demand exceeded supply and where parking was underused.

Resolving Ventura’s parking problem involved redistributing and more evenly spreading out the use of parking spaces.

So, 300 of the city’s total 2,500 parking spaces in the downtown core were turned into paid spaces that people were willing to pay for to get prime spots for shopping or dining. Off-street parking further away was changed to be either four-hour or free all day to entice people to park a short distance away from downtown. The end result: parking was more evenly distributed throughout the city’s downtown, alleviating parking shortages and traffic congestion.

PBPG member Chris Olson said a community workshop on implementing an eco-district in the beach community has been rescheduled for Tuesday, April 29 at Pacific Beach Middle School at a time yet to be determined.

“Community identity, health and well-being, access and mobility are some of the things we’re slated to discuss,” Olson said, adding the workshop is intended to “bring everyone together in the same room then break up into smaller groups to discuss things like neighborhood greenways and transit projects.”

Olson added there’s been some discussion of changing the name for the new sustainability district being formed from eco-district to a “livability district.”

The Pacific Beach Planning Group meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Pacific Beach/Taylor Branch Library at 4275 Cass St.

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