But not everyone, like Pacific Beach resident and coastal photographer John Cocozza, is pleased by the prospect.
Cocozza's take is that the PB parking committee, using Hermosa Beach as its model, is considering, along with paid parking, starting a residential permit system in the area surrounding a potential parking district. He said his understanding is permitting would assess residents $40 a year, and employees working within the PB business district $143 a year, for parking permits.
There is also a draft plan being considered to institute paid parking in a several block area between Mission Boulevard and Cass Street on the west and east, and Emerald and Thomas streets on the north and south (surrounded by potential residential permitting). Cocozza said that's an unpopular idea whose time, he hopes, will never come.
“My issue is those businesses (where metered parking would be) are retail establishments – bars, restaurants, nail salons, etc. – where people are making minimum wage or a little higher,” he said. “I don't think it's fair that those people should have to pay (for permits) that would come out of their income. People are struggling and hurting already with the economy right now. The last thing they need is another increase in their cost of living.”
Sara Berns, executive director of Discover PB, the beach community's Business Improvement District, said its important to keep parking issues being re-considered in Pacific Beach in proper perspective.
Berns noted the parking district was established a decade ago by the City Council and encompasses most of the Pacific Beach area.
“When the Pacific Beach Eco-District was formed back in 2012-2013, a major topic was parking and traffic management and how to plan for future congestion as the city begins to grow,” Berns said, noting the parking committee held three public forums in 2014 to gather community feedback regarding transportation and parking needs, concerns and issues. Out of that information, the advisory committee was reformed, she said.
“The committee has been meeting monthly, reviewing researched strategies on parking management and gathering feedback from the community,” Berns said. “The ultimate goal of the committee is to come up with a comprehensive parking management plan that is supported by the community to submit to City Council.
“Yes, parking meters and residential parking permits are some of those techniques that have been proposed but also time restrictions, a public shuttle system and improving bike/walk infrastructure,” Berns said.
An East Coast transplant, Cocozza had a bad experience there when local governments literally took coastal areas over, requiring people to pay to access public beaches, a big mistake in his view, which he'd like to see not repeated.
And Cocozza envisions the possibility of something like that happening here.
“I don't like where that (paid parking) goes,” he said, adding he knows lots of people who come to PB to surf who'd be disillusioned if they suddenly found themselves having to pay for parking nearby.
Also, Cocozza warned, there could be spillover into residential neighborhoods from metered parking installed in portions of Pacific Beach's commercial core as people fan out trying to avoid being charged.
Cocozza suggested the BID's efforts in re-conceptualizing how to deal with parking and traffic issues might be better spent doing “beachfests or restaurant and art walks, things the group excels at” as better ways to promote the community's business district.
Discussing why parking meters are under discussion, Berns noted that “45 percent of parking-meter revenue stays in the community and can only be used to benefit parking and safety (there).
“This means parking revenue could be used for projects such as a shuttle to take people to the beach and other destinations, new sidewalks or crosswalks, bike lanes and bike safety improvements, landscaping on local streets and in medians, trash pick-up, sidewalk cleaning and graffiti removal,” she said.
Experience has shown that “similar parking districts bring in upwards of half a million dollars a year to their neighborhoods for these projects,” Berns said.
She added, “Parking revenue (would) help mitigate the impact of the hundreds of thousands of visitors that use our streets and resources every week. The important thing to note is that a parking management plan has to be all-encompassing and comprehensive.
“We have to consider the needs of the residents, the businesses the employees and visitors. We want to make sure there is access for beach visitors, convenience for residents and gain for the businesses in whatever the plan entails.”