City Council makes parking optional for some San Diego businesses
Speaker 1: (00:01)
The days of easily finding parking spaces outside your local restaurant or retail store may be coming to an end in San Diego. On Tuesday, the city council approved a measure that would free some businesses from the requirement of providing parking to customers. Those businesses could start using their parking lots as dining areas or extra retail space. The unanimous city council vote is intended to increase the use of mass transit decrease, driving, and bring the city in line with its climate action emission goals. But the decision may be out of step with many residents. A group of neighborhood leaders voted overwhelmingly against the proposal several months ago. Joining me is San Diego union Tribune reporter David Garrick. Welcome back, David. Hey, thanks for having me under this new measure. What would make a business exempt from providing parking while
Speaker 2: (00:54)
There's two ways that the business is within a half a mile of a transit hub, which is defined as a trolley line or a bus rapid transit station or two high-frequency bus routes. They would be exempt in that scenario. Also, if they're near a, if they're in a neighborhood commercial zone, which is a fancy city zoning term for like a small Plaza that serves only sort of the adjacent, uh, residential area, as opposed to like a regional mall, like fashion ballot,
Speaker 1: (01:22)
And this would apply to both new construction and existing businesses.
Speaker 2: (01:26)
Yeah. And that's the interesting rub because typically when Citi does a policy like this, it will only apply to new things, but this is also retroactive. So if you're a business now and you've been operating for 30 years, you theoretically could get rid of all your parking when this takes effect. And just
Speaker 1: (01:40)
To be clear, a transit hub could be a bus stop.
Speaker 2: (01:43)
It's either a rapid bus. That's a sort of a fancy term for buses that are our special buses with a special lane, or if there are two bus routes nearby, that would count.
Speaker 1: (01:53)
Okay. Can the businesses near transit and dense residential areas still opt to provide parking for their customers?
Speaker 2: (02:01)
Yes. And that's the key thing that supporters stress and the chamber of commerce endorsed this because they say it shouldn't be looked at as telling businesses to get rid of their parking. It should be looked at as giving businesses the discretion to figure out how much parking they need and then decide whether maybe they have too much right now. And maybe they would be better served by having a little bit less. So it will be the choice of each individual business to decide how to handle it.
Speaker 1: (02:26)
And what kinds of businesses will still be required to provide parking?
Speaker 2: (02:29)
There isn't really any particular type it's based on geography, like where you are, if you're in any of these zones. You're okay. But I mean, I think the idea is that if you're a business near transit, you're probably going to consider it. And if you're a business that's really far from transit and you know, everyone has to get to your business by car, it seems highly unlikely. You would eliminate your parking spot.
Speaker 1: (02:49)
Now the vote on the city council was unanimous, but some city council members did voice concerns. What did they have to say?
Speaker 2: (02:55)
Yeah. Um, and they were two separate sets of concerns. Uh, council, president Campbell mentioned that, you know, older people and San Diego is getting older. You know, as the boomer generation gets older, uh, older people and handicapped people, they really can't get out of their cars as easily. They can't take transit or bike or walk as easily it's possible, but it's not very easy. Uh, and then Marnie Von Wilpert who represents a Scripps ranch pointed out that a lot of San Diego, residential, suburban areas like Scripps ranch and Tierra Santa, you know, it's just, they're not really transit friendly areas. They're really car reliant areas. And it would take a lot for them to, to transform themselves into a transit oriented areas. So
Speaker 1: (03:33)
How are those concerns are going to be addressed? You know what
Speaker 2: (03:36)
I think that they, they basically are, except for that Barney got the mayor's office to agree with her that the city's definition of what a transit hub is. They actually call it a transit priority area. But the definition of what a transit hub is, Marty wants to discuss the definition, but also how it's applied. She was concerned in particular that if a large housing project, if a small sliver of it is near the trolley, but the huge rest of it is not, it still counts as in a transit hub. And she says, she doesn't think that's a good call. So she wants to discuss with the mayor, maybe adjusting that policy or refining it in some ways,
Speaker 1: (04:08)
In what areas of the city will, the elimination of business parking likely have the most impact.
Speaker 2: (04:14)
It will happen in areas where the businesses have looked at it and realize a lot of their customers get there by walking or by transit or by bike. Um, so I think that's where it'll happen at the most. Um, and like I said, I think it's script trans Rancho, where I'll go, you won't see hardly any businesses take advantage of this because they need parking. Their, their customers all rely on it and they don't want to have people circling around the block for an hour, looking for a spot before they can come in and shop at the business.
Speaker 1: (04:39)
What do supporters say taking away the parking requirement for some businesses will accomplish?
Speaker 2: (04:45)
Well, it says it's gonna accomplish a lot. They say it's going to help businesses, but their number one goal is to talk about climate change and how San Diego wants to reduce its greenhouse gases by 15 people out of cars onto biking and walking and transit. And they say, this is a way to sort of accelerate that process, sort of force people a little bit, kind of nudge them in the direction of saying, Hey, if you really want to go shop, you're going to have to switch to transit or bike or walking because there's a lot of businesses you just can't park at anymore.
Speaker 1: (05:12)
And you mentioned in your reporting that an overwhelming majority of neighborhood leaders voted against eliminating the parking requirement when it was proposed last spring. So could this be in a sense of sort of tone deaf vote by the council?
Speaker 2: (05:27)
I guess you could characterize it that way. I think they've been taking no tone deaf votes in that regard for a while now, because they've been focused on this idea since mayor Faulkner was an office on putting dense housing along trolley lines. And pretty much almost every one of those housing projects has been not popular with the neighbors and nearby residents, but the city council has approved it anyway because they have this idea, this agenda, this, I guess, vision of a city where there's dense developments along existing transit routes and trolley lines, because that's where it makes sense to add new housing where people can get to places without adding to congestion and sprawl and those problems. So, I mean, I think all those decisions could be characterized as similarly tone deaf to, to this one. But I don't know if it is tone deaf. I think it's just a different perspective. I think a lot of San Diego residents lived here a long time. They live in a suburban area and they're not really comfortable with the idea of transit, but I think if you look at the climate change data, they may need to become more comfortable.
Speaker 1: (06:23)
And when does this new measure go into effect
Speaker 2: (06:26)
January 1st in, in most places, but in the cities coastal zone, which is generally west of interstate five, it's not quite like that, but generally, um, it has to get approved by the coastal commission. And there is some doubt that the coastal commission will approve it exactly as it is because the coastal commission generally is really focused on allowing people access to the beach. And so if you're gonna eliminate parking near the beach, they might have a problem with it. Some heartburn, I can't be sure, but I know in the past that they've raised issues about such things,
Speaker 1: (06:54)
Okay, then we'll have to keep an eye on it. I want to thank you. San Diego union Tribune, reporter David Garrick. Thanks so much.
Speaker 2: (07:00)
Thanks for having me.
The San Diego City Council approved a measure on Tuesday that would free some businesses from the requirement of providing parking to customers.
Starting Jan. 1, businesses near mass transit or in small plazas near dense residential areas can opt to convert their parking areas into dining areas or extra retail space.
The unanimous city council vote is intended to increase the use of mass transit, decrease driving and bring the city in line with its climate action emission goals.
But the decision may be out of step with many residents, a group of neighborhood leaders voted overwhelmingly against the proposal several months ago.
San Diego Union-Tribune reporter David Garrick joined Midday Edition on Wednesday to discuss the city council's action.