San Diego Parking Districts Present Spending Plans
San Diego's community parking districts on Wednesday presented a City Council committee with their plans for how to spend money collected by the city's parking meters.
The parking district budgets have been the subject of frustration among their managers and City Council members because of legal restrictions on how the dollars can be spent. Some of the districts have built up millions of dollars in reserves over the years.
The spending plans for the current fiscal year, which began July 1, include projects to increase parking supply, manage the existing supply and reduce the demand for parking by making the districts more bikeable and walkable.
City Councilwoman Georgette Gomez, whose district includes part of the Mid-City Community Parking District, said she wanted to see the districts focus more on alternatives to cars.
"I know that it's a little bit of a sticky point because (the money) is coming from parking meters," she said. "But (it's) definitely an opportunity to activate the goals that we have set forward in our Climate Action Plan."
That Climate Action Plan expects San Diegans to cut back on driving in favor of biking, walking and riding public transit. City studies have hinted at a conflict between that goal and the goals of the parking districts to increase parking supply.
The studies, connected to long term development plans for Hillcrest, North Park and Golden Hill, suggested reducing the parking supply, not increasing it, would help the city meet its climate action goals.
Earlier in the day, representatives of the Hillcrest Business Association held a press conference lashing out at plans by the San Diego Association of Governments to build protected bike lanes connecting their neighborhood with Bankers Hill and downtown. Representatives of Bankers Hill plan on spending some of their parking meter money on landscaping to improve the bike lanes' safety.
Experts say protected bike lanes are better at attracting ridership than painted lanes. Hillcrest businesses have opposed them, fearing the long term net loss in parking spaces will cause them to lose customers.
The City Council's Smart Growth and Land Use committee voted to forward the parking district budgets to the full City Council, which has final say over the plans. The hearing is expected in September after the council's summer recess.