PAC hopes to ease parking problem with 92 spaces

Pacific Athletic Club is looking for support from the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board as it tries to solve its parking issues. At the board’s regional subcommittee meeting last Wednesday, PAC discussed its plans to acquire a 150-foot-wide swath of open space that runs the length of the club to add 92 additional parking spaces.

It also hopes to use the remaining 75 feet that wouldn’t be used for parking to create a public trail connecting Del Mar Trails to Carmel Country Road.

The parking problems, which PAC General Manager Pete Jones said are “substantial and unrelenting,” are at their worst in peak hours, between 9 and 11:30 a.m. when the “morning moms” come. When parking can’t be found at the club, cars line Carmel Mission and Carmel Center roads.

“I try to avoid the club at those peak hours and come at 6 or 7 a.m. to work out,” said board member and PAC member Nancy Novak.

She said there is talk in the locker room of overcrowding and she’s had friends leave the club because of it.

“Nobody is happy with this situation,” said Pete Jones, PAC general manager.

Board member Scott Tillson said PAC needs to involve neighbors in the process. He suggested holding a design open house and letting people come in to share their opinions.

“Obviously there is a desire to work with the community,” said Mindy Scarano, a PAC member and former planning board member who has been working on the issue. “PAC has always worked very diligently to meet the needs of the community.”

As mitigation for the open space Carmel Valley would lose, Scarano said the PAC would set up a fund with the city, earmarked for acquiring open space and trail easements.

The land PAC wants to acquire was originally theirs; the city forced them to sell it back in 2001, Jones said.

“In eight years, the city has never turned on the water and never pulled a weed,” Jones said.

As a result, the easement is currently overgrown with vegetation - benches installed as enhancements are hidden by overgrowth. Neighbors complain about teenagers using the area for illegal activities. Jones said syringes and other drug paraphernalia hav been found there.

“I run through there all the time and it is not an asset to the community, it’s a detriment,” Scarano said.

She said it’s so uninviting that walkers can’t actually walk all the way through and often take their dogs or strollers into the PAC parking lot to cross through.

Tillson has talked to neighbors on Portada, above the proposed lot and said some have concerns about placing a lot so close to the backs of their homes.

Jones said another option is to rope off the parking spaces that are adjacent to homes overnight.

PAC’s permit was granted without a limit on the number of members allowed. The club has never disclosed member numbers but Jones said it has leveled off for the last two years and is actually the lowest its ever been due to the economy.

Putting a cap on membership won’t help the issue, said Jones.

“If the member level was one half of what it is now, we’d still have a parking problem,” Jones said.