Panel Wants Consideration of Downtown Parking Garage


LA MESA – The La Mesa Community Parking Commission voted 5-0 Thursday night to speed up development of a plan to determine whether construction of a downtown parking structure is economically feasible.

The commission discussed a general plan that would add parking spaces to the downtown Village area of the city by constructing a multi-level garage, perhaps on top of retail space that could be constructed on an existing city parking lot.

Talking only in general concepts, commissioners outlined the need to plan now as there are already times during the work week when virtually every parking space in downtown is occupied. Without increasing parking for the future, they said, city businesses could be hampered and large public events could be limited.

City staff told the commissioners it would take time – perhaps several years – to analyze the need and determine how financing for such a project could be arranged.

However, Commission chair Lynn McCrea said it would be best to ready the project in case financing suddenly became available through federal stimulus money or other state or local grants.

While there is no specific plan in place, it was clear that the issue was not a new one to the city staff. Bill Chopyk, the city’s planning and development director produced an artist rendition of what a mixed-used garage could look like if built atop the city’s parking lot at 3rd St. and Lemon Avenue.

Chopyk explained that the drawings were actually done for free by the San Diego Association of Governments as part of a program to promote smart growth throughout the region.

While no one, including the commission, has targeted the Lemon Avenue lot, it was clear that both the location and shape of that lot made it easier for SANDAG to speculate on what a garage would look like at that location. The city’s other, similarly located lot on Allison Avenue is triangular in shape and a much tougher location for a garage full of rectangular parking spaces.

Commissioners emphasized the speculative nature of any downtown garage project by also voting Thursday night to speed up plans to improve lighting in the same Lemon Avenue lot. City staff pointed out that any lighting improvements could be relocated if a garage project materialized faster than expected.

City-owned and operated garages have been used in other parts of San Diego to help increase parking capacity where street parking can’t handle the public demand. Structures in Hillcrest, La Jolla and other commercial hubs were noted.

Over the next several months city staff will produce a proposal for a plan that would include hiring a consultant to help the commission analyze the economic factors in the garage project. The city council would have to approve any expenditures related to this effort.

The Parking Commission meets again next month, but some of the issues it is handling will undoubtedly be a focal point of the City Council’s April 13 meeting. The commission has proposed adding 100 new, “credit card’’ capable parking meters along La Mesa Boulevard and has also proposed removing the planters that dot the city’s business corridor. Local merchants have questioned that plan and have questioned whether funds raised by the current meters could be used to help beautify La Mesa Boulevard during these trying economic times for many local businesses.

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Tags: Bill Chopyk, Government, La Mesa Community Parking Commission, Lynn McCrea, SANDAG, downtown village

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Comment by Kristine Christensen Alessio on April 20, 2010 at 11:47pm
In my opinion, it is not that there is a lack of parking in downtown, rather a lack of parking directly in front of the merchants. Rather than consider a parking garage, I believe that we should be encouraging the idea that is it okay to walk a few blocks to ones destination. Inasmuch as my husband is a senior and it is more difficult for him to walk a few blocks, we also might consider putting up signs that read something like "Reserved for Seniors" much as the shopping malls do with "Reserved for Expectant Mothers" here and there. That way those who need to park close, but are not handicapped technically, can park closer. Yes, it is an honor system, but based on what I have observed while shopping at various places with signs regarding expectant mothers, it works quite well.
Comment by T Thompson on April 17, 2010 at 10:30am
This idea prompts a simple reaction from me - NO!
Parking structures are difficult to navigate, getting a tow or battery jump-start is quite difficult.
Parking structures attract those who want to do that which is unacceptable in the open and will attract those from other areas, mischievous teens or chronic homeless to our area. The open visibility in La Mesa is what makes me feel safe and "at home" in La Mesa.
Parking structures, by their nature, are aesthetically unattractive.
Finally, does anyone beside me remember the tragedies of the parking structures resulting from the Northridge earthquakes?
Please, go back to the table and nix this notion.
Comment by Craig S. Maxwell on April 7, 2010 at 11:24am
The new fire and police stations look big enough to hold half the cars in La Mesa. Maybe we could park there(?)
Comment by Russell Buckley on April 4, 2010 at 7:01pm
Hi Scott. Speaking of our grandkids future, that is one of the reasons that I am so insistent that we use the (ill-advised) Prop L tax increase to pay off our unfunded liability, build up our reserves, rather than continuing to pay our employees pensions so far in excess of what most taxpayers (aside from other government employees) receive. The round of MOU negotiations which are starting right bout now, will tell us whether or not our council is willing to stand up to the public employee unions.
Comment by Scott H. Kidwell on April 3, 2010 at 4:14pm
Russell has a valid point. Or we could continue with the withdraw of money from our grandchilrens future throug stimulus funds or further encourging our federal and state wankers to take ever more of our own money and gift it back to us out of their magnanimous generousity through grants. It's amazing what can be done with other peoples money when you have the power to tax "at will."
Comment by Russell Buckley on April 3, 2010 at 11:53am
I don't know anything about the supply vs. demand for parking in downtown La Mesa. However, I wonder why we don't leave it up to someone from the private sector provide parking? If no one wants to do so, it may mean that the demand is not sufficient to make such an investment economically feasible. If anyone has thoughts about this, I would like to hear them.
Comment by J Piper on April 3, 2010 at 8:16am
How about an underground parking lot, say beneath the building on the southeast corner of Spring and La Mesa Blvd?

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