Parking Commission Asks City To Spend On Cleaning Effort

LA MESA -- Breaking with recent traditions, the City Parking Commission Tuesday voted 4-1 to ask the City Council to spend $32,000 of parking meter money to increase cleaning of the streets during the Centennial year.

The Parking Commission vote was followed soon after by a decision of the La Mesa Village Merchants Association to resume responsibility for the maintenance of the planters along La Mesa Boulevard.

The Merchants Association abandonment of that duty several years ago helped spur a call by other merchants and property owners to call for a more professionally run organization funded by a Property Based Improvement District.

Tuesday night's Parking Commission vote was a direct departure from city policy, which has been to limit spending of parking meter funds for capital improvements within the Parking District. Maintenance and landscaping beyond the city's normal services, city officials have argued, should be shared by the property owners along the street.

Jim Wieboldt, commission chairman and the only no vote Tuesday night, said he was disappointed that his fellow commission members recommended spending the funds and he hoped the City Council would continue sticking to its policy on this issue.

"We've worked hard to build up the parking fund so that we could make some real improvements to the district,'' Wieboldt said. "This is a step in the wrong direction and I intend on telling the council that.''

The $32,000 would fund quarterly power washing of the Village sidewalks and enhanced street sweeping by the city during the Centennial year.

Lynn McRea, a commissioner who usually votes with Wieboldt on issues, said she shifted her vote Tuesday because she believes the  City Council should clarify its stand on the use of those funds.

"My strict reading of the Municipal Code is that that money should be used for capital improvements only," McRea said. "But I have felt good about more power washing and I think the city needs to figure this out.''

Bill Chopyk, director of the city's Planning Department, said using the funds for enhanced street cleaning is legal, but Wieboldt and fellow commissioner Laura Lothian have disagreed about how the funds should be used.

Lothian has been campaigning on local websites for allowing the use of the more than $300,000 collected from the meters each year for cleaning and beautification, not just capital improvements.

Deena While, treasurer of the Merchants Association and outspoken critic of the PBID proposal, said she and her supporters considered Tuesday night's vote a great decision. The parking money is there and it should be used to help the city in any way that is legal, While said.

While said the Merchants plan to look for community help in maintaining the planters.

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Comment by chris shea on February 22, 2012 at 11:28am

I think the idea to spruce up the streets and sidewalks is a great idea.  Good job all!

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