Now that a year-long pilot parking meter program on Garnet Avenue is in the City’s hands, opponents are calling for final action on the proposal to be postponed arguing the public hasn’t had proper time to weigh-in on it.
At their December meeting, Pacific Beach Parking Advisory Board voted to forward their proposal to District 2 Councilmember Jennifer Campbell’s office. The proposal would put 321 high-tech metered, two-hour-or-less-time-limited parking spaces on Garnet Avenue. The pilot plan would be limited to the densest part of Garnet’s commercial district.
“There is no timeline yet,” said Joshua Coyne, Campbell’s director of policy, on when PB’s parking meter proposal will be heard by the City Council. “The Parking Advisory Committee needs to vote on a budget, and it will go to City staff for review. We think it will need to go back to the committee one more time, and then eventually to City Council.”
Paid parking, meters, in particular, have been a hot-button issue in PB for years.
“There are many people in Pacific Beach who oppose parking meters and have good reasons,” contends Gordon Froehlich, a PB Parking Advisory Board member representing residents and a dissenting voice on the board. “The parking committee meetings and membership are dominated by representatives from Pacific Beach nonprofits. They control everything and allow little if any, input from anyone who is not a nonprofit representative.”
Paid parking proponents and supporters of the proposed year-long metered PB pilot study maintain paid parking is a management solution and tool that will help solve traffic problems. They say it will provide a continuing revenue stream for Pacific Beach that stays in the community. They argue benefits of paid metered parking include reinvesting PB parking revenues to fund community-improvement projects, increasing turnover for prime parking, increasing space availability, reducing traffic congestion, and enhancing pedestrian safety.
“This is not about parking. This is about money,” said Warren Barrett. “There is a small group of people who have been trying to enact paid parking in PB for almost 20 years. Now they are trying to sneak this through during a pandemic when people are not paying attention. The Parking Advisory Board is telling the City Council that they have the support of the community.” Barrett does not believe that to be the truth.
“I don't see the benefit of this proposal and lots of reasons to oppose it,” said Dieter Wirtzfeld. “It will clog up parking/traffic on Garnet and just make congestion on adjacent streets.”
“I am opposed to placing parking meters on Garnet and surrounding streets,” said Stephen A. Luskin. “This is a bad idea, and the fallout from folks trying to save a couple of dollars on parking will impact the residents that live nearby, pay taxes, and attempt to keep the neighborhood clean.”
“I don’t think this was given a lot of thought,” said Derrick Williams. “It doesn’t seem like they had residents’ best interests in mind when this idea came about.”
Supporters of the metered parking pilot program point out that every Pacific Beach community group that has voted on the proposal has voted in favor of it. The parking pilot program has been supported by PB Planning Group (9-3 vote on Nov. 11, 2020), beautifulPB (unanimous), Discover PB's board of directors (one vote against), and PB Town Council, which also voted unanimously in favor of the proposal.
“I have been a resident of Pacific Beach for 26 years and strongly oppose parking meters,” said Irith Abada. “Discover PB has been trying for years to get the meters installed and received strong feedback from residents and businesses opposing it several times. Now they are doing it during a pandemic and all residents I have asked strongly oppose it and did not know they are manipulating a way to rush this for approval by the City Council.”
The Community Parking District was established in Pacific Beach by the City Council in June 2005. It was charged with addressing ongoing traffic concerns and identifying issues with PB parking inventory and access, especially during weekends and prime business hours on Garnet, the center of the community’s business district.
The Parking Advisory Board overseeing the parking district is drawn from PB Planning Group, PB Town Council, Discover PB, beautifulPB, and at-large neighborhood delegates.
The next meeting of the Pacific Beach Parking Advisory Board will take place at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 9 on Zoom.