The parking ordinance in Del Mar’s central commercial zone may be relaxed in hopes of creating a more pedestrian-friendly city and helping to revitalize downtown.
During its March 28 meeting, the Del Mar City Council agreed to start the ball rolling on amending those parking standards, a lengthy process that must be approved by the California Coastal Commission and could take 18 months to two years.
“This isn’t an end all, be all — but it’s the start of moving in the right direction,” councilman Mark Filanc said of the decision to start the process.
Right now, the city’s ordinance requires a set amount of parking spaces based on the square footage of a business. The problem, said Mayor Don Mosier, is that this ordinance was adopted more than 20 years ago and it does not take into account that today many people don’t rely on their cars, opting instead to travel by mass transit, bicycle or on foot.
“We’re trying to get away from the 1950s and 1960s planning, where everything was concrete and about driving in your car, and gas was 29 cents a gallon,” Mosier said. “That’s not where we are today.”
If the parking ordinance is amended, the city would change the ratios of parking required based on the square footage. Though city staff is still researching what would be appropriate changes, the goal is to provide flexible parking standards that would meet the Smart Growth criteria suggested by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).
Del Mar Village Association Executive Director Jennifer Grove and board member Linda Rock also addressed council to express their support for the change, stating that they felt it would certainly help revitalize downtown.
Mayor Mosier said that beyond bolstering business, lowering the parking standards for downtown’s mixed-use area falls inline with smart urban development. He also pointed out that there were parallels to California Department of Transportation’s proposed widening of Interstate-5, a project that would add up to six new lanes on from La Jolla through Oceanside and has been strongly opposed in Del Mar.
“Everyone understands that there’s a problem with widening [Interstate-5] because if you build wider freeways, you attract more cars. But exactly the same argument applies to parking: If you make marked parking spaces, you just encourage more cars to come to our city,” Mosier said. “I’ve met a lot of people who are opposed to the I-5 widening, but who don’t want to change our parking regulations, and to me, there’s a disconnect there.”