‘Free’ parking in paradise
By Don Mosier
Del Mar mayor
Anyone remember the lyrics of the Joni Mitchell song, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot!” Well, Del Mar is pretty close to paradise and attracts so many visitors that we may need more than one parking lot. But is that the right response to our chronic parking congestion?
The Traffic and Parking Advisory Committee is addressing the parking problems generated by beach users and will be holding community conversations about wider use of pay-and-display meters. We need to accept that free parking is a subsidy that encourages the use of cars and trucks. However, it is well recognized that parking fees need to benefit the local residents. “If curb parking revenue disappears into the city’s general fund, parking meters will have few friends. Curb parking revenue needs the appropriate territorial cIaimant — its neighborhood — before the neighborhood’s residents will want to charge market prices for curb parking spaces.” (Donald Shoup, UCLA.) If revenues collected in the beach area are used to subsidize beach services and improve the local streets (for example, completing the Coast Boulevard landscaping), will local residents be more supportive?
The City Council is also beginning to review minimum parking requirements for new developments in the central commercial zone. There are two reasons that this is important. First, we need to comply with the regional sustainability plan that is mandated by SB375, the legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Second, most urban planners now recognize that minimum parking requirements are a substantial tax on new development.
Again quoting Professor Shoup, “Minimum parking requirements are a hidden tax on development to subsidize cars. If urban planners want to encourage housing and reduce traffic, why tax housing to subsidize cars?” The important goal of a pedestrian friendly village means that we need to create one-stop parking, where residents and visitors can park once and walk to several destinations, including new businesses.
Del Mar is unique in that our commercial zone is immediately adjacent to residential areas, so solutions that push spillover parking from Camino del Mar into the surrounding neighborhoods must be avoided or mitigated. One way to address parking overflow from employees of downtown businesses is to implement employer programs to subsidize car-pooling, use of public transit, and shuttle service to offsite parking areas. These are challenging problems, and we must be careful to do no harm. Remember the other line from Joni Mitchell’s song, “That you don’t know what you’ve got — till it’s gone.”
- Del Mar reduces parking fees to encourage shopping
- Opinion: Tax revenue behind parking drive
- Sidewalk sale means free parking
- Maiden Lane in Del Mar will get parking meters
- Parking rates now lower in Del Mar for holidays
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