City of Del Mar’s proposed parking plan should be strongly opposed

In response to the June 4 Del Mar City Council’s hearing, I would like to voice my strong opposition to the Village Specific’s “Park Once” strategy for solving Del Mar’s parking problem.

The proposed plan, in effect, would take private property – my 41 parking spots at 1201 Camino del Mar – and force me to surrender it for public use. This would devalue my property by millions of dollars while enriching the value of Del Mar’s under-parked properties. I’m eager to see the revitalization of Del Mar’s downtown, but not at my property’s expense.

The VSP proposes to increases building heights and floor area ratios in order to provide incentives for redevelopment. The parking element of the VSP, however, requires property owners to give away their private parking in return for reasonable parking standards when redeveloping or increasing their intensity of use. Developers can’t buy and redevelop real estate, pay the property taxes and maintenance, and then donate its private parking to the City as a public parking garage because obtaining financing for a development gutted of its property rights would be near impossible. This “deed us your parking strategy” is a major disincentive for any future development in Del Mar.

If the City is truly interested in revitalization, we must ask: “How did Del Mar’s downtown end up in need of revitalization? How did the City’s planning process create world-class residential properties, and yet fail in developing Del Mar’s central commercial district.” It happened because for 45 years the City has had impossible parking standards that it largely has failed to enforce.

Today, one third of Del Mar’s commercial district consists of nondescript buildings that were given permits for uses way beyond their ability to provide parking for those uses. These buildings aren’t candidates for redevelopment because they can’t improve on what they’ve already been given.

I call for the establishment of reasonable parking standards for restaurants that are comparable with other coastal North County coastal cities:

•Del Mar 11.1 per 1,000

•La Jolla central zone 1 per 1,000

•La Jolla beach zone 1.67 per 1,000

•La Jolla Shores 1 per 1,000

•Carmel Valley 5 per 1,000

•Solana Beach 7 per 1,000

The establishment of reasonable parking standards does not require the VSP. It can be done at any time, if the council had the will to problem-solve and direct the city staff.

At the June 4 City Council hearing, the Staff Report that discussed the Encinitas parking ordinance was inaccurate. It stated that

“Del Mar’s parking requirements are approximately 25 percent higher because Encinitas’ Specific Plan counts a proportion of on-street parking towards the private parking.”

While this statement is correct for areas of Encinitas that have not yet developed a specific plan, for downtown Encinitas and Leucadia, the standards are vastly more lenient than Del Mar’s parking standards.

North Beach Specific Plan (Encinitas Blvd. to La Costa Blvd.) requires 1 space per 100 square feet of dining areas only (not total restaurant square footage).

The Downtown Encinitas Specific Plan allows existing buildings to intensify their use (from retail to restaurant) with no additional parking if the building size isn’t increased.

Encinitas, as well as all other cities, also recognize the Urban Land Institute methodology for “shared parking.”

The City needs to construct a public parking garage and not detrimentally burden small businesses. Increasing the floor area ratios above 45 percent can only be accomplished with off-site parking because it is impossible to park more than a 45 percent floor area ratio on-site, even at a 1:300 parking ratio.

I call on the City of Del Mar to put aside this plan of forced redistribution. I worked hard for my property. I don’t want government to take my use and ability to make a living. That is why I oppose the VSP parking plan and hope others will, too.

George Conkwright

1201 Camino del Mar