There is a lot of focus on the Community Center at Fletcher Cove. Some of us have lived in Solana Beach long enough to remember it before the renovation. Additionally, we can recall things about its uses, the parking, the volunteers, the fun events that we held there. This is the community’s park, much like La Colonia on Stevens Avenue…a place for Solana Beach residents to have fun, enjoy the views, celebrate events, and connect with friends and family.
Fletcher Cove itself has changed over the years. There once was a wall-to-wall asphalt parking lot for beach users and access to the beach where now a pleasant park exists. The park has a fraction of the previous parking with room only for the lifeguards and emergency access and handicapped parking with a few drop-off spaces. There is another city parking lot down on South Sierra across from the post office that is also used by businesses and customers for shops along Highway 101. Most of the commercial property along Highway 101 and Cedros Avenue is grandfathered to have no required onsite parking unless there are expansion changes to the building that trigger a parking requirement. The Fletcher Cove Community Center, is a newly renovated public building with no increase in size, on public property, on a public street, next to a public beach park with wonderful views of the ocean.
The reduction of beach-front parking has caused an impact on surrounding properties that already have insufficient parking for their needs. Planning for additional public parking was discussed some dozen years ago and the need for additional parking structures in the beach area and Cedros Avenue were explored. There was even a private ownership offer to build a parking structure on Cedros next to the Belly-Up that was nixed by the-then City Council who would not waive a newly created front yard setback on the west side of the street; hence, a continued parking problem in both areas.
The Coaster/Amtrak station has a huge parking lot that is always full and not always with daytime travel patrons, some for the weekend, some for businesses elsewhere and some for visitors to walk to the beach. That may all change when they charge for parking for all use, except for the Coaster / NCTD customers .
Why am I telling you this? Well, the parking problems in those areas of the City has never been adequately addressed by the recent City Councils. Now they even blame the problem on the Community Center which is for the City and community’s residents use, taxpayers by the way. The beach parking lot that shrank to a handful of spaces is for everyone living from near and far to enjoy – if they can find a parking place. This is a parking problem that has not been addressed, except to have added some spaces spread out along one side of Highway 101. That’s a band aid needing a much better, bigger solution.
Marion B. Dodson
Former Council Member and Mayor of Solana Beach