Lantern District Del Prado gateway arch installation, July 1, 2015. Photo: Alex Paris
Lantern District Del Prado gateway arch installation, July 1, 2015. Photo: Alex Paris

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.

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comments (2)

  • Kudos to Councilmen Viczorek and Schoeffel for saying “no” to this ill advised parking plan. How did our Council manage to spend $28 million on roads, boring sidewalks, palm trees and monuments and not put a little into permanent municipal parking? Now the success of Town Center hinges on parking spots leased from existing private property owners. If the Meridian lease is any indication, these owners can cancel with 60 days notice, leaving City taxpayers open to unexpected increases in parking fees, not to mention the loss of parking spots themselves. And why, again, are taxpayers supposed to pay for parking that developers normally fund themselves?? Sounds like “rolling the dice” to me!

  • Frank, you are on to something.
    The Council was assured that parking leases for this program would be for five year terms, renewable at the city’s option. Being cancelable with 60 days notice is quite another thing. The city’s counsel, Patrick Munoz, claimed he had reviewed and approved these proposed contracts. I wonder what he has to say now. Maybe if we had developers provide the correct number of parking spaces as required by the original 2008 code we would not have to worry about the development staff’s questionable contract drafting talents.

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