City Council must set reasonable parking standards

The VSP (Village Specific Plan) has been defeated, but Del Mar residents still want change. I’ve submitted a speaker slip for the Nov. 19 City Council hearing, and my speech is below. I invite concerned residents to attend this hearing and voice your ideas about how to promote downtown re-vitalization.

I’m appearing before you tonight to suggest that in order to re-vitalize the downtown, the City Council must set reasonable parking standards, which I propose to be:

(1) Adapt SANDAG parking ratios

(2) Adapt the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) methodology for calculating peak hour parking requirements for mixed-use buildings.

(3) Wave parking requirements for outside dining areas.

(4) Include curbside parking in a building’s inventory of parking spaces.

Most residents agree that the downtown is in need of revitalization. The VSP was proposed as a solution, but residents rejected it because, among other reasons, they want newer and more attractive buildings, not bigger buildings.

At the numerous meetings discussing re-vitalization, the question was never explored: “How did Del Mar’s planning and design review process, which created beautiful residential properties, fail in developing the downtown?”

It happened because Del Mar has an impossible parking ordinance. For example: Bully’s parking lot doesn’t even provide enough parking to comply with Del Mar’s parking ordinance.

Today, Del Mar’s commercial district is mostly non-descript old buildings . . . that were given permits for uses way beyond their ability to provide parking for those uses. Del Mar’s current parking shortage is empirical evidence that this happened.

No City Council since 1967 has been willing to address the problem . . . and the City has not enforced the parking ordinance in a uniform manner. The City will be unable to correct the current situation until they acknowledge they haven’t observed the parking ordinance.

Of the 23 restaurants established since 1967, none have been required to comply with the “one per 90” ordinance except 1201 Camino del Mar. Of the eight restaurants with outdoor seating created or expanded since 1989, none have been required to comply with the “one per 90” ordinance except 1201 Camino del Mar.

While it may seem counter-intuitive to reduce the parking standards when there’s a parking shortage, the fact is that unreasonable parking standards were so onerous that they were never enforced, except against 1201 Camino del Mar.

I don’t know what the City can do about all these under-parked restaurants . . . that have been enriched by millions of dollars . . . but it’s time to acknowledge what’s happened here. It’s time for the City to replace its impossible parking standards, and subjective interpretations, with a new parking ordinance.

George Conkwright

1201 Camino del Mar