Pacific Beach businesses see pros and cons of new parking meter program


Plans for a one-year pilot program that includes parking meters in the Garnet business district of Pacific Beach and a neighborhood shuttle are moving forward.

On August 3, the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to create the Pacific Beach Community Parking District, which will work with the city and parking experts on the type of meters used, hours of operation and rates. which should be charged for each seat. .

Among the objectives of the program are reducing congestion, especially in places with the most commercial traffic, and helping to generate revenue for premium parking spaces, said Lsyundra “Sunny “Lee, executive director of DiscoverPB, who will cover the cost of insurance and office space. for the community parking area.

Lee said no date has yet been set for the installation of the meters, which are offered on Garnet for about six blocks from Mission Boulevard to Fanuel Street; Cass Street between Grand Avenue and Emerald Street; and Hornblend Street between Mission Boulevard and Bayard Street.

As the community parking district and others try to determine when meters can be installed and maneuver codes and vehicle permits, small businesses in the area are mixed in their expectations.

Alex Dameron, owner of Noah’s Natural Pet Market on Cass, is optimistic about the parking meters that will be installed along his storefront. She said she hopes metered parking will help with turnover and create more parking.

“It would be cool to have more space for our customers,” said Dameron. “Being on Cass Street, we’re between Garnet and Grand, we’re right in a very busy area. It would be nice if that was measured.

  1. Debby Merickel walks her dog, Gringa, past Noah’s Natural Pet Market on Cass Street, one of the Pacific Beach business district stores that will soon have parking meters.

(Milan Kovacevic)

Dameron said there was not enough traffic in the 2-hour timed parking spots near his store.

“Our customers have a really hard time finding parking spaces so they can run around and collect their bag, let alone shop for a little while,” she said.

Other business owners see meters as both beneficial and inconvenient. Frederico Santos, co-owner and operator of Square Pizza on Cass, just north of Garnet, said meters have the potential to become a double-edged sword.

“On weekends, when they don’t enforce parking, some people come down to drink and party and end up leaving their cars until Sunday or Monday, taking up precious space,” Santos said. “With the counters, there will be more urgency for the rotation.

“Now customers who come for their pizza or for a quick stop may be upset (by the counters), and that’s something we’ll have to think about and maybe make a plan for it,” he said. added.

Tim Bailey, co-owner of the Aztec Graphics store on Garnet, said that until the meter program begins, it’s hard to say what kind of impact it will have on businesses.

“I don’t have a solid opinion until this plays out,” Bailey said. “Initially, before we see what happens with it, we kind of viewed it as a negative because it can deter people from coming to our store if they can’t park in front of it. But even before the pandemic, there were times our customers couldn’t find parking and we were pushing them back. “

Despite the parking issues, Bailey isn’t quite averse to counters.

“I can definitely see that there is a serious traffic problem, especially during the summer,” he said. “Something needs to be done about the traffic problem and the parking problem in this area. I think it would be worth it. “

One of the expenses that the parking district has identified for the revenue that will be generated by the meters is an electric shuttle to and from Balboa’s next transit center, which they hope will ease the traffic. To achieve this, the parking district is working with SANDAG, the public agency that serves as a forum for regional decision-making in San Diego County.

While it’s still unclear how much parking revenue will go to the program, SANDAG has pledged $ 350,000 to help fund two years of shuttle service.

An important step towards launching the shuttle is a request for proposals from private vendors to operate the program. Micro-transportation company Circuit already has a contract with the city, running the Free Ride San Diego (FRED) program downtown, but their contract is expected to expire soon. Other potential candidates are Ford Mobility, which runs the HOOT ridesharing program in Oceanside, and a micro-mobility company called Gotcha, said Danielle Kochman, head of mobility planning at SANDAG.

Joe Bettles, who worked with the Pacific Beach Planning Group to pass a resolution regarding the shuttles, said a private company would allow more flexibility in their design to better suit the community.

“We can adjust the hours of operation, we can put surf racks on top of the shuttle, we can determine where we hire employees,” Bettles said. “We can also advertise local businesses to offset the costs.”

Other potential changes to the service could include an app-based call for the shuttle along its designated route, similar to the FRED program, said Kochman, who oversees the neighborhood electric vehicle concept.

The process will need to be refined as it is implemented. The Carlsbad Commuter, a 13-passenger vehicle similar to the Pacific Beach shuttle concept, has been updated and adjusted for a nine-month period, she said.

Kochman said the shuttle program cannot be launched until the city does some troubleshooting.

The shuttle will most likely be in the form of a neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV), according to Kochman. The vehicle code specifically states that low-speed vehicles, such as an NEV, cannot be used on a road with a speed limit greater than 35 miles per hour. A critical section of the road near Balboa station is a 40 miles per hour zone, which means the shuttle could not operate in that zone, she said.

Some possible solutions SANDAG envisioned would either be to lower the speed limit on that section of road or to plan to designate specific roads as exemptions from this rule, she said.

Another obstacle is a city ordinance dictating that the revenues collected in the parking district cannot be allocated outside this district. The Balboa station would not be within the boundaries of the Pacific Beach Community Parking District and, under this ordinance, there is a conflict of use of parking revenues on this project.. Kochman said they can either change the city’s ordinance or enter into a specific memorandum of understanding with the city.

“In my experience, we never want to have just one solution to these problems,” Kochman said. “Other things tend to happen. I like to keep all of our options open and work on them.

The mid-hill tram station is slated to open this fall. SANDAG is currently negotiating a memorandum of understanding with the city for the neighborhood shuttle. Depending on the length of the purchase from a private supplier, Kochman estimates that the shuttle could be launched as early as spring 2022.

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