By Jim Shilander
The Dana Point City Council voted 3-2 to approve a revised parking plan for the Lantern District that would encourage the development of more shared parking, either through new development or shared parking agreements with current businesses. Residents, however, voiced concern that the plan would ultimately provide too little parking for the Lantern District effort to be successful and that residents would end up footing the bill.
Consultant Patrick Siesman of Nelson Nygaard said the city’s existing parking in the area was more than adequate to handle increases, sitting 44 percent empty at peak hours. The reason for this, he said, was that much of the area’s parking was divided into “parking fiefdoms” in shopping centers or offices with signs indicating people might be towed if they went elsewhere. This, he said, led to a patchwork effect with empty parking lots in some places and “spot shortages” or spillovers into residential areas in others.
Dana Point, he said, had inherited its current parking regulations from the county. Those regulations were not designed with a pedestrian environment like the Lantern District in mind.
The city had recently opened up a trial lease with the owners of the Meridian building, 24582 Del Prado Avenue, which would allow for three-hour public parking at the facility and allow employees to park in its underground facility. This shared parking agreement was a potential model for future ones.
Siesman proposed requiring developers build two parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of space and that such parking would be available to the public, or be required to pay $40,000 per space in in lieu fees, which would be placed into a fund to allow for purchase or lease of additional parking areas. The standard also placed a requirement of one space for per 1,000 square feet of residential space.
Residents who spoke in opposition to the standards said the new rules did not do enough to guarantee adequate parking, and potentially let developers off the hook from providing enough parking.
Resident Buck Hill said Nelson Nygaard had been making a living telling cities they didn’t need more parking, only needing to improve “management,” and that residents he’d spoken with found some of the ideas presented in the proposal “crazy.”
Council members were urged by staff to approve some version of the proposal, to begin the process of getting the measure in front of the California Coastal Commission, which could take up to 18 months. As a compromise, the council approved a version that eliminated any credit for on-street parking for development, which could potentially increase the amount of in-lieu fees paid by developers, as well as increasing residential requirement to two spaces per 1,000 square feet of space.