DEL MAR — City Council supports a plan to allow general public parking in developed lots during nonoperational hours, but not enough to turn it into law just yet.
Council members directed staff at the July 25 meeting to modify a proposed ordinance amendment so it is less bureaucratic.
“I would like to assume that most people have enough common sense to put this in place in a good way for the community and not spoon-feed this process to death,” Councilman Terry Sinnott said.
“I agree,” Councilman Carl Hilliard said. “If you make things so burdensome and cumbersome people won’t do it and you defeat the purpose.”
Viewed as another step in the revitalization process, the amendment would allow a property owner or business operator to make off-street spaces available to the general public when they are not being used by operators, patrons or employees of the businesses at that location.
“A shortage of parking downtown is often cited as a barrier to revitalization,” Planning Manager Adam Birnbaum said. “There are a number of underutilized parking lots.”
According to the staff report, the new law would increase the stock of parking spaces downtown by allowing broader use of spaces that typically aren’t used at night or on weekends.
Owners or operators could charge a fee. The new law would apply only to established parking lots since creating a new lot on a vacant site could impact the surrounding area, Birnbaum said.
Spaces that have been granted shared-use or off-site permits would not qualify. The proposal received support from the Planning Commission and Traffic and Parking Advisory Committee.
Sinnott said the intent of the new law is very good.
“I’m not so comfortable with the requirements that we’ve laid out,” he said. “I think it’s too bureaucratic.
“We want to make it … reasonably easy for a property owner to decide to use their spots for this kind of parking,” he said. “I’m worried that we’re putting more barriers to the process than are needed.”
Hilliard said some of the provisions were overreaching, including a requirement that the property owner submit a written statement ensuring there will be no “substantial overlap in the operation hours.”
He also said there was a problem determining whether the applicant should be the business operator or property owner.
Councilman Mark Filanc said he viewed the ordinance as a way to protect the tenants and avoid confusion and problems later.
“I think we’re just trying to force them to do the right thing up front,” Filanc said.
Mayor Don Mosier said parking cars in a lot that for years was vacant at night is an intensification of use that requires the “full process” of public hearings.
“Some of these things you really can’t shortcut,” he said. But Mosier agreed a more streamlined, user-friendly version of the amendment was needed.
No residents addressed council during the meeting, but three of four emails received support the changes.
As it was written, the new law would expire in five years, but it could be renewed at that time if successful. Staff will present a new version for a first hearing possibly as soon as Aug. 8.