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Cindy Fleming, Dana Point
Parking is a topic at nearly every Dana Point City Council meeting. It was very instrumental in the creation of Measure H and remains a concern. The passage of Measure H increased the number of parking spaces required by Dana Point Town Center businesses and restaurants to pre-September 2015 numbers, but did not provide a solution to the parking issues.
As the Doheny Village Plan is being created it faces the same parking issues as the Town Center Plan. Can a walkable, pedestrian-friendly village that attracts customers and invites them to stroll and linger also provide adequate nearby parking? Does the requirement for restaurants and businesses to provide parking for their employees and customers increase the cost to the point that it is economically unfeasible to build, own and operate businesses in these areas?
Dana Point is not breaking new ground by creating villages within the city; this has been successfully accomplished dozens of time in other cities, but Dana Point does face the additional challenge of trying to do this in areas with Coastal Commission jurisdiction.
A walkable, pedestrian-friendly village with adequate parking for employees and customers is possible. Eliminating parking beside restaurants and shops removes the need for cars to cross the sidewalks and allows buildings to be located closer together.
By providing a limited number of on-site spaces, under or behind the business, and providing the complement of required spaces at a shared public parking facility, the land use is improved, the per-space parking cost is reduced and customers can park once and enjoy eating and shopping at several businesses. The key is providing the shared public parking facility and making it attractive for shops and restaurants to locate nearby.
Restaurants, retail shops and businesses cannot operate in the Dana Point area without parking for their employees and customers. Even adding multi-tenant residences within these areas will not significantly reduce the parking needs. Limiting the number of on-site parking spaces and providing parking at a central parking facility makes for far better use of the land reducing land-cost per customer. The per-space cost of a central facility should be less than on-site parking facilities because of scale and because the number of entrances is greatly reduced. Each development will require an economic analysis, but business success requires parking and central parking improves land utilization and reduces per-space cost, both of which contribute to the bottom line.
Traffic, parking and noise are the primary concerns of nearby residents when an adjacent commercial area is developed. If the traffic from the commercial area does not pass through the residential neighborhoods, and adequate convenient parking is provided within the commercial areas, the negative impact on the surrounding residential neighborhoods should be minimal. Parking restrictions in the residential neighborhoods might be necessary to make them less convenient than the central parking, but adequate convenient central parking is the key. Commercial parking from the restaurants and other businesses in the Town Center is already encroaching into the adjacent residential neighborhoods and this problem will only get worse as the number as the businesses in the Town Center increase.
The residential neighborhood south of Del Prado to the bluff is in the Coastal Commission’s jurisdiction and parking rules that limit public access to the coast are not acceptable. However, all the parks in this area that provide views of or access to the coast are closed from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. so the Coastal Commission is likely to approve resident-only parking restriction during these hours. The residential neighborhood north of the PCH is not in Coastal Commission jurisdiction so more options are available but making more stringent restrictions in one neighborhood than the other will just force more of the encroachment from north of the PCH to south of Del Prado. Resident-only parking restrictions from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in all the residential neighborhoods surrounding the Town Center will eliminate the late-night noise created by employees and customers parking in these neighborhoods. These restrictions will also make it easier to enforce the closure of the parks/overlooks in these areas reducing vandalism and other nuisance factors.
The City of Dana Point has shown the right vision in the 2008 Town Center Plan and in starting on the Doheny Village Plan. By working with all parties, residents, businesses, restaurants, developers and the Coastal Commission, this vision can be realized. Let’s not get bogged down over issues that can be addressed!
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