San Diego Plan to Eliminate Parking for Businesses Advances

by on June 25, 2021 · 16 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

By David Garrick / San Diego Union-Tribune / June 23, 2021

San Diego’s proposal to allow many businesses to eliminate their parking spots passed a key test last week when a City Council committee voted 3-1 to support the change after a contentious hearing. The vote, with only Councilmember Marni von Wilpert opposed, makes it likely the proposal will get support from at least five members of the full nine-member council next month.

Supporters say it makes sense to give businesses latitude to decide how many parking spots they need, especially with more San Diego residents commuting by transit, bicycles and ride-booking services like Uber and Lyft.

They also say fewer parking spots at businesses would encourage more people to commute and get to shopping areas by mass transit, bicycle or by walking, which would help the city meet the goals of its legally binding climate action plan.

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Many San Diego businesses would no longer have to provide parking under policy proposal

By David Garrick / SD U-T / June 5, 2021

Many businesses in San Diego would no longer need to provide parking spaces for customers under a controversial new proposal that aims to accelerate efforts to make the city less car-reliant and more climate-friendly. The proposal, which the City Council is scheduled to vote on next month, would eliminate parking requirements for businesses located near mass transit or in small plazas near dense residential areas.

New businesses in those areas would no longer have to provide any parking spaces for customers or staff. And existing businesses could immediately transform their parking spots into outdoor dining or extra retail space.

City officials say it makes sense to allow businesses — not city officials — to decide how many parking spots they need, especially with more San Diego residents commuting by transit, bicycles and ride-booking services like Uber and Lyft.

The balance here.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Paul Webb June 25, 2021 at 12:17 pm

You don’t have to be an expert to understand that there is one critical factor in the success of a small business: access. When developers look at a property for commercial development, one of the key metrics is average daily traffic on the adjacent streets and roads. The higher the traffic volumes, the more likely the site will be a successful commercial development. I have been told this by commercial property developers many, many times over the course of my career. And what happens when one of those automobile drivers decides to visit your business? He/she will look for a place to park. If there is none, you may have just lost a customer.

I have lived in the same home for about 35 years. There are several storefronts within a few blocks of my home that I have seen cycled through business after business, most not lasting even one year. The common denominator of these locations? No off-street parking and only very limited on-street parking. Whenever I see a new business open in these sites, I mark the date on my calendar to see how long they stay in business. Makes me feel like the grim reaper, knowing that the hopes, dreams and financial investment these folks are making are going to vanish. Just today I saw the latest business in one of the spots I follow put up its “going out of business sale” signs and banners. It is very sad.

Even sadder is the fact that our elected representatives just don’t get it. You cannot have a successful retail business if your customers cannot get to you.

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Avatar Geoff Page June 25, 2021 at 3:26 pm

I agree. Paul. This is the reason why shopping in downtown OB is so hard. If you can ride a bike all the time for everything you want from Newport or Santa Monica, then it’s ok. But, if you need to take a car, it is really a pain to find a parking spot. Because of that. it is easier to go over to Midway where the bigger stores have parking.

When I read about this thing yesterday I saw red. All they are doing is putting ridiculous pressure on the available 0n-street parking people need in their neighborhoods. This is a really stupid idea.

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Avatar Stu June 28, 2021 at 12:11 pm

I sometimes drive, I perfer to bike, but when I drive I’ll often park a block or so away east of Sunset cliffs and walk the last few block.
I have an RV and when we are going to a strange town we’ll do a drive through and then park blocks a way from our destination and ride bikes. I have found it way easier and healthier to walk a few blocks than drive. I know this won’t always work but its is nice when it does

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Avatar Geoff Page June 28, 2021 at 4:06 pm

Stu, I’ve used that same method in OB, I’d put a bike in my truck bed and park east of Sunset Cliffs on a busy summer day. But, even before the increased traffic and the removal of many parking spots downtown, it was hard to park west of Sunset Cliffs. Remember, everything around Newport is residential. All this will do is push more and more people out into the surrounding neighborhoods, which makes it tougher on residences. This extreme step is not the way to go.

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Avatar kh June 25, 2021 at 8:26 pm

Well the traffic counts will be through the roof then with all the cars circling looking for parking.

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Avatar Frank J June 25, 2021 at 5:31 pm

I also agree with Paul and Geoff. Just who are these supporters? If you are a small restaurant, do you put 6 tables in 6 parking spots your diners need? What other business could this apply to? Hard for me to believe this should even be an issue, that anyone will be ‘encouraged’ to use other transport, and the city council took the time to review and vote without more important issues to address.

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Avatar kh June 25, 2021 at 8:31 pm

Supported by developers and environmentalists. Cars are evil and hey we can cram even more square footage into this property now.

It’s no big deal, after the customers circle the block a few times they can park in front of my place. At least they’ll get more exercise.

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Avatar nostalgic June 25, 2021 at 5:43 pm

It is possible that the buildings will be built by developers, and the businesses owned by the renters. Renters come and go and mostly pay the rent until they go. It is the developers who will benefit. Are apartments next, where owners pledge to rent only to bicyclists?

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Avatar Geoff Page June 26, 2021 at 12:34 pm

Well, I’ll tell you a fix I’d like to see. New accessory dwelling units even as big as 1,000/SF and more, can be built with no provisions for parking if mass transit is within a certain distance, a half mile or a quarter mile, I believe. The fix we need is a provision in those rental contracts the the renter would have to sign saying they did not have a car. There is a new one of these on my already crowded block and the first renter has a car. It is going to be chaos.

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Avatar kh June 26, 2021 at 9:42 pm

Oh we can do better than that.

Try 1200 sq ft, up to 30’ tall, and you can build it in place of an existing garage, removing all offstreet parking from the property while also adding no new parking. And on many lots you can build 2 ADUs, with up to 800 sf exempt from maximum FAR. And you can stick em right on the property line.

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Avatar Gyreand June 25, 2021 at 8:50 pm

San Diego mass transit sucks. Loud buses and trolleys that are constantly shifting and bouncing, uncomfortable stops that are open to the elements, uncomfortable seating, annoying and disrespectful passengers, and the absolute lack of restroom facilities at any stop or station (due to the increasing numbers of transients likely to vandalize or harass?) make the promotion of the use of San Diego mass transit a huge obstacle on the path toward meeting environmental goals. Taking the bus/trolley to go shopping is a dead-last resort for most San Diegans. I guess a forced lack of parking will get people to shop elsewhere (can’t imagine riding a bike to go shopping there – what a hassle that would be!). Good thinking… NOT!

SOLUTION: Make the buses and trolley cars QUIET, smaller and patrolled by guards, make clean, patrolled restrooms PLENTIFUL, give all the stops some sheltered seating – but I guess all that would be cost-prohibitive. Oh well, whatever, never mind. Think I’ll drive on out of here.

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Avatar Rick June 27, 2021 at 2:11 pm

If someone must drive, perhaps parking for free on the east side of Sunset Cliffs and walking the three or four blocks might actually improve one’s health.
Of course there’s plenty of paid parking spaces. The issue isn’t available vehicle parking, it’s free parking.

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Avatar Paul Webb June 30, 2021 at 10:12 am

Well, yeah, of course. But once you become accustomed to receiving something for free, it feels like you are having something taken away from you when you suddenly have to start paying for it.

I swear that our elected officials and paid city staff are doing everything they can to make our city unlivable – eliminating single family zoning, allowing 10 units on virtually every property in the city without requiring parking (admittedly, that is a state effort proposed in SB10, but supported by our local “leaders”), allowing ADUs on virtually every property without parking, massively oversized redevelopment of the sports arena property, 350 foot tall towers on the NavWars site, etc. It is nothing short of insane.

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Avatar kh July 1, 2021 at 3:11 pm

Free parking was never free. The developers of commercial and residential property pay to provide it, and pay for the land it’s on. It is/was considered part of their duty to protect neighbors and other land uses from the impacts of their operations.

Just the same as providing trash service, or having noise restrictions. If paying for trash collection is too much of a burden for developers does that justify piling their trash in front of peoples homes to deal with? If shutting down music at 10pm is too burdensome should the neighbors just not be allowed to get any sleep?

Providing parking is one of many social contracts part of being a good neighbor.

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Avatar Geoff Page July 1, 2021 at 3:31 pm

That’s the way to tell it, kh, very well said.

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Avatar kh July 1, 2021 at 5:28 pm

Also the code does not require the parking to be free, it just requires that it exist. La Dona charges more to park for a meal than what I normally spend on a meal elsewhere. But it still satisfies the code requirement.

If someone is allowed to build a large restaurant or business or condo without parking to encourage alternative transportation, then they should only be allowed to serve people who bike or take a bus. If you think that’s ludicrous I agree with you.

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