San Diego

Neighbors, Businesses Clash Over Controversial Parking Plan

The city says a switch from parallel to head-in parking in areas of North Park could add more than 100 spots

You can circle the block, once, twice, three times, or more, without finding a parking spot on 30th Street in North Park.

That parking problem often causes customers, and the employees who serve them, to park on nearby residential streets.

But the increased traffic and crowding are a more than a simple inconvenience for some residents, and it could soon get much worse.

“We have little (children) here,” said Brent Moser, who often visits his family on 29th Street, just around the corner from busy restaurants, a bar, and a Jack-in-the-Box drive-through. “The less traffic, the better, honestly."

But city planners want to add more parking on 29th Street, south of University Avenue, and on 25 other blocks, many of them residential, throughout North Park.

Traffic engineers want to restripe the parking on one side of those streets from parallel to head-in, side-by-side parking. The city says doing so would add 187 parking spots.

Some customers and nearby residents are embracing the proposal for diagonal, side-by-side parking spots, similar to what you see in parking lots.

"It's an attractive part of town, and we're going to need more folks to be able to come visit and hang out and patronize the businesses," said Brent Blum.

Matt Alviar, who manages a clothing and sunglass shop on Upas Street just off 30th agreed that merchants and customers need more parking.

"There are a lot of breweries up towards University Avenue that people park here for, so I think it makes a lot of sense," Alviar said.

But many residents feel strongly that a switch to head-in, diagonal parking is a terrible idea.

They're talking with neighbors and circulating a flyer that warns of more traffic, noise, and litter.

They also worry "head-in" diagonal parking means vehicle headlights will shine on their front windows and transform their streets into parking lots.

"Can you imagine when I have 20 cars here, instead of five?,” asked Brittany Taverner. “I’m just livid about this.”

Taverner said there’s already a problem with employees at near-by businesses dominating parking on her block for the entire day, and servers and bartenders at restaurants and bars who take over those spaces at night.

She said some of those service employees come back to their vehicles at 2 a.m., where they eat, drink, smoke and play loud music, before driving away.

"And I'm coming out here with my 2-year-old son, picking up tequila bottles and beer bottles and telling people they have to turn off their music because it's two in the morning and my house is shaking," Taverner said.

She and other opponents note that there's a multi-story public parking structure just a few blocks north, on 29th Street near University Avenue.

They say it has more than enough room for North Park vehicle traffic, at very reasonable rates.

Those who support the additional on-street diagonal parking said they understand Taverner’s frustration.

“But as long as the neighborhood eventually becomes better, it's one of the unfortunate consequences of that betterment," said Kevin Fox.

Residents will be able to voice their opinion before the city approves the parking plan.

If a majority of them disapprove in writing, the city will not switch to diagonally parking.

But opponents say that's unfair because most people won't study the issue, nor make the effort to respond in writing.

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