VSP coercion: Why must I give my private parking for public use?

On July 10, I spoke at the Del Mar Planning Commission meeting to oppose the proposed parking element of the Village Specific Plan (VSP). I asked that Local Coastal Program Amendment 12-02 be cast aside.

This “public-private partnership,” deliberately named benignly “Park Once,” in truth amounts to the theft of private parking for public use. If VSP is approved, it will amount to coercive taking because it forces commercial real estate owners to comply or else be held to a more onerous parking standard than those who do not capitulate. Let me explain.

For 45 years, the City has had an impossible parking ordinance. But instead of changing the ordinance to provide reasonable parking standards, they passed out over 20 restaurant permits to their “favored” property owners even though these properties have little or no parking.

Del Mar’s impossible and unenforced parking ordinance not only created today’s parking problem, but also created substandard commercial development. Now the City proposes to revitalize the downtown with the VSP. The Planning Department has consistently misrepresented this VSP to us, however.

They told us other cities have a “Park Once” program, but they failed to mention that these “Park Once” programs of other cities involve publicly-owned parking garages located on public property. Staff has been directed by the City Council to work toward establishing a public parking facility, but they have no definitive plan in place — other than coercing private property owners to surrender their parking for public use. This is unacceptable.

The staff also presented studies at lectures stating that 1201 Camino del Mar, my property, has a parking garage that is “under-utilized.” The reason it is “under-utilized” is because the Planning Department refuses to allow me to lease 25 percent of my property because they want to use it to supplement the VSP’s insufficient parking model.

Granted, nobody’s thumbs have been broken, but the City has violated the public’s trust by failing to comply with their own parking ordinance and to observe the rule of law. This is local governance at its worst.

I’m in favor of revitalization. Currently, my building is the only commercial property in Del Mar being redeveloped. Construction will be finished soon. It is an example of what Del Mar could be. But if my property continues to sit vacant while the City bargains for my parking garage, it instead will become a symbol of Del Mar’s corruption.

Sadly, last night the Planning Commission chose to ignore public input and approved the VSP as written.

I vehemently will oppose the VSP. I will join a coalition to stop it when it likely appears on the November ballot. Say “No on VSP!”

George Conkwright

1201 Camino del Mar