University Heights Protests Loss of Parking Spaces

by on June 15, 2022 · 41 comments

in San Diego

A couple dozen residents and business owners in University Heights protested the City’s removal of 88 parking spaces on Monday, June 13. The parking spaces are being taken out for protected bike lanes along a one-mile stretch of Park Boulevard between Adams and University avenues.

They also did not have kind words for San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria or the city council. Susy Holts of University Heights told San Diego News7:

“I’m incredibly frustrated. I despise what’s happening. [Gloria] and the city council are not listening to the people or the residents.”

Business owner Ben Evans said:

“I think the mayor is more concerned about urban living and density more than what it’s going to do for small business in this area. Where are all of our customers going to park if we lose this parking? How are we supposed to stay in business?”

Meanwhile, city crews began working on Park Boulevard on the next phase of the city’s resurfacing plan. According to News7, “The new bike lanes will be laid out next to the pedestrian sidewalk, adjacent to a three-foot safety lane. A parking lane will be on the outside of the safety lane, next to a single driving lane in both directions.”

Besides the loss of parking spaces, residents believe the new configuration will force delivery trucks to park in the middle of the street, blocking the two driving lanes. They also are concerned over potential bus and emergency vehicle access.

Business owners told the TV station that their complaints and concerns were ignored by the city. Business owner Lance Stratton said:

“I’ve been in business for 30 years, and this is the first time that I felt threatened that the city was not on my side, the city wants me out of business. mI don’t appreciate that.”

All these concerns reflect the frustrations of business owners and residents along 30th Street in North Park when the city removed hundreds of parking spaces and replaced them with controversial bike lanes.

In the city’s defense, officials claim there’s still 165 parking spaces remaining. Anthony Santacroce, a senior public information officer with the city claimed that the city “has found it can add 55 more spaces on cross streets in the area by converting angled and parallel parking into head-in parking on many side streets that intersect with Park Boulevard.”

Plus a Gloria rep was quick to note, according to News7, that bike lanes on Park Boulevard were called for a year ago in three different plans: the City’s Bike Master Plan, the Uptown Community Plan and the North Park Community Plan, each established with significant public input and review. And unfortunately for these University Heights folks, their councilmember, Stephen Whitburn, supports the project.

Again, surprise, surprise, the whole city (Gloria) rationale is that these bike lanes are completely necessary to prevent more deaths and injuries among bicyclists. David Rolland, Gloria’s guy (he used to run a San Diego magazine once known for its biting news coverage of the city), raises the “safety” card:

“A single death or severe injury on city streets is unacceptable, and in 2021 alone, 16 bicyclists were killed in San Diego. We must make it safer for residents to travel by bike, and that’s why Mayor Gloria is increasingly creating protected lanes. The mayor is also committed to meeting the ambitious goals in the City’s Climate Action Plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and decreasing car trips and increasing bike trips is a major part of hitting those goals.”

Nobody wants more deaths and injuries.

Time and again, however, the OB Rag and reporter Geoff Page have refuted the statistics that some bicyclist advocates use to pressure the city on bike lanes. Usually, our fingers point to a group called Circulate San Diego — which we have shown is an organization in the developers’ pockets.

Yet, the city is not truly committed to “safety.” Why, safety was the issue when five 100-year old palm trees were cut down by the city not too long ago. Safety was the issue in Mira Mesa when the city painted in new “lanes” without informing local residents. The same issue was used as the excuse to paint out the former lanes in Point Loma.

And for a response to Gloria’s Climate Action Plan, see today’s “Reader Rant.”

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris June 15, 2022 at 1:17 pm

I drove though there yesterday after work to check them out (new bike lanes). So far they are painted and not protected, but I assume they are a work in progress. Actually the whole layout was kind of confusing but again a work in progress. I’ll be honest, if these really are going to be protected lanes I am kind of looking forward to that since I do bike in that area a lot and have had a couple close calls. I guess we’ll see how this all pans out when the project is completed.

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Frank Gormlie June 15, 2022 at 2:03 pm

Hey, I like a good bike lane, but if you’ve ever tried to park along Park Ave, you know the loss of 88 spaces could be devastating.

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Chris June 15, 2022 at 3:24 pm

I live just down from there. I’m on Park just past Cypress (Hillcrest) so I know how bad parking is. For us though we usually walk or bike when we go eating and drinking in Univ Heights so we might as well take advantage. Still from what I saw it was a pretty weird layout so it will be interesting to see the final product.

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Paul June 15, 2022 at 11:06 pm

Chris,well I guess that’s great for you, but there are businesses on Park Blvd that I frequent and who I suspect appreciate my business. It’s hard enough to find parking as it is and despite the assurances given by the city, I don’t believe adding some angled parking will help much. There’s already angled parking on side streets between El Cajon and University, and I can still rarely find a space.

The idea that there has been adequate opportunity for public input on the plans that has been considered by the city is laughable to the point of insult. They don’t care what the community wants unless it is consistent with their agenda.

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Chris June 16, 2022 at 8:03 am

Here are two of many studies and articles out there that dispute the notion that reduced parking resulting from the implementation of bike lanes hurt business. I can think of many areas I’ve been to where neighborhoods (not in San Diego) with protected bike lanes were thriving.
As you probably know, State Street in Santa Barbara has completely closed off all vehicle traffic and parking and the result of that has been an economic recovery as it was previously in decline due to the growth of the nearby “Funk Zone”.
All that being said, I’ve posted in several Rag articles my opinion that lanes replacing parking is not a one size fits all far as economic impact. So how this will pan out in Univ Heights remains to be seen. Despite all the negative backlash, I know plenty of people who live in or around that area who are stoked to see them. Again we’ll see out it ends.

The latest evidence that bike lanes are good for business | by Eric Jaffe | Sidewalk Talk | Medium
Verdict is in: Studies show bike lanes as beneficial to businesses, and drivers should want fewer cars – Cambridge Day

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Geoff Page June 16, 2022 at 1:15 pm

The Toronto study said this, “It’s also the case that, even when immediate street-parking spaces are eliminated for a bike lane, most cities have abundant parking options nearby.” Looking at the map, the abundant options are the adjacent residential neighborhoods. So, instead of having cyclists use roads parallel to Bloor Street, it is somehow better to force cars into those residential streets? There was nothing in the study about interviewing the surrounding residents.

The other one was just a letter but it did contain a link to a Portland study. There were too many “We generally find..” lead ins to their findings to inspire my confidence.

But, like you said, Chris, there is no one size fits all so the results of what they have done on 30th and they are now doing on Park, will be what matters most. Sadly, there will be casualties when there was no need for that.

Every time I mention parallel roads, I get crickets.

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Chris June 16, 2022 at 3:11 pm

There really aren’t streets parallel with Park Blvd the same way as with 30th in NP. They go in short stretches and break off. Once you get past El Cajon (coming from Upas) there really are no streets parallel with Park. 30th is a different story but since there are bike lanes I might as well take advantage.

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Geoff Page June 19, 2022 at 11:51 am

Just talking about the current project from Adams to University, Chris, Georgia runs the whole way. There is one connection at El Cajon Blvd. that would require riding a block east to cross El Cajon.

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Geoff Page June 15, 2022 at 3:08 pm

Wow, this one is even worse, they are taking two lanes of traffic away? Just for bicycles?

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Zack June 16, 2022 at 10:50 am

I live in the area and I’m happy to see this. I bike from time to time and have had a few close calls as well.

The way I look at removing the parking is that it is definitely less convenient but if your business relies on free street parking that the city provides to you then you’re not very competitive and need to reconsider your business model. I know that sounds harsh but there is not much parking as it is in Uni Heights and most businesses do just fine without it.

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Geoff Page June 19, 2022 at 11:43 am

Another amazingly insensitive, arrogant comment from the cycling world. You don’t have any idea what you are talking about but your attitude is “screw them, those lousy business people.”

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Zack June 19, 2022 at 12:20 pm

What makes me part of the cycling world? I cycle 1-5 times a month and drive daily.

You can certainly think of my comment as insensitive if you’d like but it ain’t from the cycling world any more than you are from the progressive activist world

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Geoff Page June 19, 2022 at 1:27 pm

If you are not part of the cycling world and you don’t own a business on Park, why are you even commenting? And, I don’t “think” the comment was insensitive, it was insensitive and it isn’t the first one I’ve heard like this about businesses on 30th also.

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Chris June 19, 2022 at 9:35 am

I just rode from my place all the way up to Twiggs. I’m pretty happy with the new bike lanes. I felt pretty safe the whole way so I am glad they’ve even put in place.

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Zack June 19, 2022 at 12:28 pm

Also just for the record I love businesses in my neighborhood (I live a block from Park Boulevard) and want them to do well. I also happen to think that free parking is a subsidy provided by the city that can allow uncompetitive businesses to survive when they might otherwise close. So I’ll repeat: if your business is reliant on subsidized parking on city property to remain profitable then you have issues as a business and need to up your game. There is no “screw those lousy business people” attitude here, unless you’re referring to businesses that are indeed lousy and should do better.

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Geoff Page June 19, 2022 at 1:31 pm

Do you own a business? Do you own one like the ones on Park? What qualifies you to even make such a statement? And parking is not “subsidized.” How did you get that idea?

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Zack June 19, 2022 at 1:55 pm

What qualifies you Geoff to talk about any of this stuff? What qualifies the OB rag to “report” on matters like this? See how far we can take this logic if we want to?

The impression I get from reading the rag is that you and Frank are bored retirees who spend your time being busybodies about various things happening in the city. You’re not real journalists that do research on interesting angles or scoops. Rather you two are lazy bloggers who think that your 1970s era activism entitles you to respect. It doesn’t. You guys are on your last legs and few people will miss the Rag when you’re gone except those of us who come on here just to troll your poorly written and trivial articles about bullshit like palm trees.

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Geoff Page June 20, 2022 at 10:20 am

So why are you here? Are you getting paid by someone to troll The Rag? If not, let’s hear your full name, like Frank and I show ours. Be a man Zack, like you said, we’re just a couple of old timers. Of course, your comment ignored a whole array of excellent writers that appear here.

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Chris June 19, 2022 at 3:42 pm

As I have commented before in other articles, bike lanes seem to be a sharply decisive issue even within the progressive community. People who would otherwise be on the exact same page on most issues that divide left and right are at each other’s throat over this. Just an observation. It is what it is. The hard cold fact is tho that no matter where bike lanes go in, it’s going to have negative consequences for some, so should the just not go in?

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Geoff Page June 20, 2022 at 10:21 am

Just for the record, Chris, I’m not at anyone’s throat over this but that is the target for the cycling fanatics who cannot listen to reason, so they do what Zack does.

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Chris June 20, 2022 at 11:08 am

No worries Geoff. I didn’t think you were (not at me anyway). We’ve always been able to respectfully disagree on the things we disagree on.

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Geoff Page June 20, 2022 at 11:22 am

I agree, Chris,. Old school. Disagree one some things maybe and agree on others. No reason for anyone to get hateful over things like bike lanes.

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kh June 20, 2022 at 7:01 pm

Depends on the situation at any given location. If the decision making process is transparent, and considers all stakeholders, then the best outcome can often be determined. Certainly some will never be pleased.

But the city often seems to lean more towards sneaking it through like a thief in the night, only presenting it to the public as a formality, or not at all, for the benefit of certain lobbying groups or political points. It’s a very efficient process I must say so myself.

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Mat Wahlstrom June 19, 2022 at 5:00 pm

FYI, CBS8 news last night had a piece on this story in which I appear. As I said, for many the issue is less about the pros or cons of bike lanes, but of the lack of engagement in how they’re being implemented, https://www.cbs8.com/article/news/local/working-for-you/university-heights-residents-react-to-new-bike-lanes/509-a5d70816-7a86-499c-8b58-98c9aea7bdbe

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Chris June 19, 2022 at 7:19 pm

As I was riding this morning from Brooks all the way up to Twiggs, I admit I didn’t notice the parking was “reversed” angle. In that respect I can see that being an unexpected risk for cyclists. Seems it would have been better to just put forward angle parking so the driver can see as they move into the space.

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Chris June 19, 2022 at 7:23 pm

Gotta put some humor into it.

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Chris June 19, 2022 at 7:34 pm

Disregard the humor comment. I didn’t meant to put it here. In fact please delete.

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Geoff Page June 20, 2022 at 10:26 am

Actually, the back-in parking is supposed to be a safety feature for cyclists, Chris. Backing into a parking spot is the best way to go but I’m doubtful about this one. It’s much easier for most drivers to head in first and when they back up, they have the whole street. I think many people find the simple act of backing up to be a challenge. Asking them to maneuver backward into a spot with a car on either side may well be too much.

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Chris June 20, 2022 at 11:10 am

Like I mentioned below, a barrier of some type should have been put in if they are going to have back in parking. Unless that’s going to happen then I agree with you in this one possible not working out.

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Vern June 19, 2022 at 7:16 pm

Aren’t these ultimately just rental e-scooter lanes?

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Chris June 19, 2022 at 7:25 pm

I didn’t see a single e-scooter this morning.

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Vern June 19, 2022 at 7:40 pm

I rode a motorcycle from PL to Coronado (and back) this morning and never saw another motorcycle. Heck of a thing!

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Chris June 19, 2022 at 7:56 pm

It was still and odd question on your part. Every bike lane I use, bikes (a few are e-bikes) still outnumber scooters. Also most cyclists hate the scooters every bit as much as non cyclists.

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Vern June 20, 2022 at 4:18 pm

Well, Chris, odd question or not, I’m sure others have seen the rental e-scooter folks using these bike lanes, running stop lights and stop signs, not unlike many cyclists.

I’m sure you’ll agree, Chris, that it doesn’t take much time while visiting North Park, Normal Heights, OB or wherever to witness cyclists & rental e-scooter folks riding through pedestrians in cross walks.

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Paul June 20, 2022 at 1:18 am

Matt’s comment is spot on. Much of the angst regarding the new bike lanes is in large part a result of the process (or lack of meaningful process) surrounding their implementation. The city’s attitude seems to be we know best and you pesky citizens should just shut up an go back to your (entitled boomer occupied) homes and let those of us who know better make the decisions. And don’t bother making any comments because we will just ignore them.

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Toby June 20, 2022 at 8:21 am

Matt & Chris nailed it.

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Chris June 20, 2022 at 9:23 am

More updates on the trials and tribulations is the new lanes on Park. Since I’m off today I decided to make another bike run from my place to (this time) Lestat’s On Park. I can see where the reverse angle parking is definitely going to be a real problem if they don’t put a barrier in place. I saw three cars parked halfway into the lane and another parked all the way into it. I had to get off my bike and walk around. Truly no big deal and a first world problem, but still annoying at how idiotic drivers don’t pay attention and likely just don’t care. There was plenty of space where the driver did not need to back in all way into the lane to where the vehicle was touching the curb. I took a picture and will send it to the city. Not that I expect any action will be taken. I predict there will be some physical confrontations in the near future. This shows how some people should not be behind the wheel.

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Sam R June 20, 2022 at 4:22 pm

Honest question – when was the last time anyone commented here went to University Heights? I go there often – whether it’s Kairoa, El Zarape, hell even Lancers – and never, ever expect to park on Park.

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Sam R June 20, 2022 at 4:23 pm

Commenting*

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Chris June 20, 2022 at 5:30 pm

If you real all the comments, you’d see I’ve been. I live close and go there all the time.

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Frank Gormlie June 20, 2022 at 8:46 pm

Here’s a switch: From the U-T: “Prompted by complaints from the California Coastal Commission, the City Council voted unanimously to require new ADUs near the beach to have parking spots if they aren’t close to a trolley stop or a bus line with frequent service.”

“The Coastal Commission said allowing residents of new ADUs to take up scarce parking spots near the beach would make it harder for tourists and residents from inland areas to park near the beach.”

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