Reader Rant: City Allows Private Business to Take Over Public Parking for Sunset Cliffs Park

by on November 30, 2015 · 28 comments

in Environment, History, Ocean Beach

PL Parking lot map

By Scott Mac Laggan

On November 19th Second District Councilwoman Lorie Zapf presented a City Council proclamation celebrating the 100th anniversary of Sunset Cliffs .

It is a shame that on this anniversary many San Diegans and visitors are not able to access Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.

There are two City parking lots for those who wish to visit the south end of the park, one near the water on Ladera St. and one up top on Lomaland Dr. adjacent to Point Loma Nazarene University.

For years PLNU, a private business, has virtually taken over the upper City parking lot for student and employee parking to the extent that often there is no parking for those who wish to use the park (please see att photo).

PL Parking lot Sunset ParkThis south “hillside” portion makes up 75% of the park.  The SCNP Master Plan regarding the Upper Lot states:

“Retain spaces for Park viewing and access, trail access, and interpretive and other Park use.” 

Following inquiries into the lot issue, the City and especially Ms. Zapf’s District 2 office have done little or nothing to cure this issue and make this City lot available for those who wish to visit the park.

After contacting Ms. Zapf’s office in September, I was referred first to Mr. Wear who on September 9th wrote the following:

“I am still looking into this issue and all possible solutions.” 

I did not hear from Mr. Wear again.   I was passed over to another staffer, Mr. James McGuirk, who on October 9th wrote the following:

“Just yesterday, I sent follow up emails to several city staff members and am eagerly looking forward to hearing back.” 

After another inquiry, on October 26, he sent me this:

“At the moment we are researching possibilities for the parking lot and look forward to speaking with each other more in the near future. I have also reached out to City Staff and am still waiting to hear back. I appreciate your patience and cooperation and will be in contact soon.”

Although I have made more inquiries, there has been no response to date from anyone.

100 years and it is a disgrace that San Diegans and visitors alike who wish to visit this wonderful park often cannot because the City will not properly police its parking lot and has virtually given it over to a private business.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Colin November 30, 2015 at 9:41 am

Haven’t given it any thought, myself, beyond the cursory read of this article, but the thought that popped into my mind, as a “solution”, is parking meters/paid lot, which I’m not here advocating as a solution, but that I can imagine might be the solution that Zapf and company would imagine, as municipal representatives potentially interested in both de-incentivizing all-dayish PLNU parkers in public lots, and collecting municipal revenues from any and all parkers of the lot in question.


Colin November 30, 2015 at 9:42 am

In essence, sort of a “careful what we wish for” cautionary?


Colin November 30, 2015 at 9:50 am

And, if the possibility exists, I can imagine potential inclination of our 2nd District representation to sell off the servicing of a hypothetically metered/paid public lot to a private parking company, taking a big slice of what should be only public proceeds. But this is pure conjecture on my part.


Anonymous November 30, 2015 at 10:44 am

In December 2012, the City instituted a four-hour time limit in that parking lot and, from what I’ve observed, it creates rates of turnover similar to what would be accomplished with paid parking meters. Nonetheless, it has done little to change the overall parking situation and I highly doubt paid parking meters would either.

As long as it is a public lot, people will park there for any and all reasons–some to surf, some to walk the trails, some to enjoy the view, and some to attend classes at PLNU. The City has little to no way to sort out who is there for what.


unWASHedwallmartTHONG November 30, 2015 at 4:08 pm

A: All PLNU vehicles display sticker.
B: Vehicles w/ sticker displayed that are parking in that lot have 15 warnings.
C: Vehicles w/ PLNU sticker get tickets after warnings expire.
D: Monies from tickets fund the surveillance cameras in OB.


OB Dude November 30, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Don’t wait for the phone to ring, text or email just call TURKO!

Remember Mr. Wears responsiveness when he tries to run for council.


Rocky November 30, 2015 at 4:50 pm

I have the same problem it has taken them 3 years to not do anything about the unconstitutional rules for artist selling in OB


RogueFive December 1, 2015 at 10:38 am

Nice try, David Millette. Your selling your bracelets on the seawall has nothing to do with the parking issues at Sunset Cliffs.


Rocky December 1, 2015 at 1:06 pm

but it does show the lack of progress getting things done thanks for remembering what my craft is


RogueFive December 1, 2015 at 2:22 pm

How could we not remember ? You complain about it, then disparage and insult fellow OB residents and the Mainstreet Association online because you don’t get your way and don’t want to go thru the proper channels to do it.


RogueFive December 2, 2015 at 9:32 am

First of all, making junk bracelets out of paracord is hardly being an artist.

But you prove my point exactly. You think the laws don’t apply to you and you feel you should be allowed to do anything you please. You make insulting statements towards someone who’s done more for OB than you can ever hope to accomplish.


Jon December 3, 2015 at 8:49 am

Hey moderator dude… C’mon, this commentor is way out of line with personal and ugly attacks. No matter if you disagree with someone, using childish and vile language to attack them personally is uncalled for.


gristmiller December 3, 2015 at 9:10 am



RogueFive December 3, 2015 at 10:27 am

Get a better copy of the Constitution. The free speech clause only protects you from being jailed by the government. It doesn’t allow you to set up your own business anywhere you choose. And it also doesn’t protect you from making slanderous statements about someone online. Hopefully she’ll sue you for your untrue juvenile statements since you’re not bright enough to hide your identity


editordude December 3, 2015 at 10:56 am

Jon, you are absolutely right. We aren’t always able to be constantly monitoring the comments and sometimes a rude, childish remark is posted without our knowledge. We have deleted the comments that were posted here that violated our comments policy. Thanks Jon – you’re hired as our comment monitor – please.

(Remember one of your favorites: “Mr. Bitter – table for one is ready.”)


PL Native December 3, 2015 at 10:33 am

Catch me up on which part of the constitution covers your right to sell anywhere you want?


craig klein November 30, 2015 at 5:46 pm

The history of PLNU and Sunset Cliff Natural Park is long and checkered. The “upper lot” accessable through the PLNU campus is designated for public parking for Park/beach access and is not supposed to be used for parking of college vehicles. However, the college has frequently taken liberties in regards to the upper parking lot. Council District 2 Office is the proper venue for dealing with this issue.


Ken Evilsizor November 30, 2015 at 6:28 pm

Just to add some more information to the conversation. I am a PLNU employee, who avoids parking in this lot, because there is a time limit for parking in this lot. At PLNU we know that all day parking in this lot runs the risk of being ticketed. In the picture posted, the person you see on the right side of the picture is walking in a whole row of unused parking spaces that look out over the coast. I think this issue has been addressed already.


PL Local December 1, 2015 at 12:59 pm

Those are “Disabled” spots.

The workers park there for the 4 hours that is allowed. Then go on lunch. And then come back and park in a new spot for another 4 hours.

How has this issue been addressed?

And did you even look at the picture? Look at all those workers trucks filling up the center of the parking lot.


PL Local November 30, 2015 at 9:21 pm

I try to park at the Upper lot to go to the “dog park” or to just check the surf, or watch the sunset. You will rarely see my parking at Garbage. There have been dozens of break-ins at Garbage. I use the Upper lot because it is more secure, and only the locals know about it. However, over the past DECADE if not longer I have seen more and more students park in the upper lot, as well as workers. The workers park there, for 4 hours, then take a lunch, and park in another spot, for 4 hours! And they use almost every spot in the upper lot. I say almost every, because there are 4-5 disabled spots, who no one uses. You will see, at best, 5 locals, during a weekday, either dog walking or going out surfing, just because there are no spots to park in. And during the weekend, sure there are spots, there are spots all around campus. But, they will still park their trucks and vans in the Upper lot. And if you want to park in the Lower lot, during the weekend, when there are no students. You will get a big bright “Warning Sticker” which could cost $150 to get removed professionally. Or you could get flat out towed.

And if you get the students not park in the Upper lot, where are they going to go? I live 3 blocks away from the college. I have students parking up the street and sometimes even in front of my house. Is all of the west side of Catalina then going to be changed to “residential” only parking, like how SDSU has it.

PLNU has only 1 parking structure which holds about 100 cars. But, there are 1000’s of students. And they just built a new building for more students. When are they going to have respect for the local neighbors. Provide access to the beach and parks. Only ticket/tow on weekdays and allow locals to park anywhere on the weekends. But most of all, PLNU has to stop using the Public Upper lot for their personal needs.


PL Native December 1, 2015 at 8:06 am

PLNU didn’t build a new building for more students–they can’t have “more students” because their enrollment is already capped by the city, specifically for parking reasons, and of course there are students there on weekends…it’s a residential campus, and almost all of them live there.
Designated residential parking stickers and meters would be annoying, but would solve the problem!


Obsurfer December 2, 2015 at 8:46 pm

Is the road that connects the upper lot to the lower lot also city property? I thought it was. Couldn’t they make that road 1 way and add parking spots all along it?


Rocky December 2, 2015 at 9:12 pm

great idea probably why it hasn’t been done


Tyler December 3, 2015 at 5:30 am

It hasn’t been done because the lots aren’t connected.


PL Local December 5, 2015 at 9:16 am

I have actually heard that half, the northern half, of the lower lot IS public property. But the college decided to take over the whole thing when they got rid of the baseball field.

Also, on the same subject. Yeah PLNU attempted to put drainage along the road. But they put it on the wrong side of the road and it does absolutely NOTHING. PLNU has to redo that whole road! I don’t know why but they have their water run off drain at the top of the hill. So, when it rains, the entire road breaks apart. It would be smart to tear up the whole road, put drainage under the road, and just make the road better for people driving and walking.


Rocky December 3, 2015 at 2:45 pm

the truth hurts??


Anonymous December 6, 2015 at 8:20 am

To clarify some of issues raised by other commenters…

The lower lot is PLNU’s property; the road from the upper lot to the intersection at the bottom of the hill is public property. (I believe PLNU’s responsibility for drainage on the public road was a result of their CUP renewal.) So whatever changes are to be made can only be made in the upper lot.

As for citing college-permitted vehicles in that area, there is no precedent anywhere for “public parking for all except for patrons/employees of X business.” It’s either public parking or it’s not. Unfortunately that means members of the public can park there freely for whatever reason they like. Paid parking meters and a two-hour time limit might improve the situation by making it less convenient for PLNU students and employees to park there but not fundamentally change their right to use it.

Resident-only permits is a great idea that would help in the adjacent neighborhoods–I would love to see that happen–but it could not be applied to the upper lot since beach access, park access and coastal viewing are open to ALL members of the public, not just residents of 92106. (Faulconer makes a similar argument in discussions about paid parking at the beaches.)

Oddly, the college’s CUP restricts the total number of on campus parking spaces, which I’m sure was meant to limit traffic flow to the campus but appears to have the opposite effect. Perhaps lifting the cap would allow them to add additional spaces to the campus that would negate the need for “overflow” into the public lot. Perhaps their next CUP renewal could include a mandate to increase the number of spaces on their own campus in order to mitigate the impact to parking in the public lot and neighborhoods. THAT is within the City’s ability.

Looming in the background of all this, of course, is the City’s plan to someday eliminate the upper lot altogether, which would lead to dire consequences for all parties. (I could be wrong about this but I believe it is mentioned in the master plan.)


PL Local February 5, 2017 at 9:04 pm

Update to this topic.

PLNU students and staff are still overtaking the Public Lot.

It has not been brought to our attention that students that live in the lower dorm are so lazy that they drive their cars from the lower dorm lot to the Public Lot so that they do not have to walk all the way up the hill. They do this even though PLNU provides a shuttle that runs every 15 minutes.

Staff and Students also ignore the 4 hour parking rule.

So when locals who want to, go on a walk, go to the dog park, surf, or just view the ocean, we have no where to park. Meanwhile, many spots are available near the lower dorm and on top of the hill. We (the locals) cannot even park and sit in our cars in these locations. If you leave your car in a “Private Parking” spot you are subject to a $55 ticket, sticker on windows (vandalism), or you could even get towed.

We are asking the PLNU to respect the Public Lot. If there is parking on your campus, park there! We do not want meter maids or any other type of parking enforcement.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: