Beach Parking Changes Rejected

Published July 18, 2013 by Imperial Beach Patch

Before a meeting Wednesday to consider two­-hour parking in some areas near the beach, city staff accidentally listed all five City Councilmembers as voting yes on a copy of the resolution that would impact about 100 parking spaces.

What really happened was the exact opposite: City Council and members of the public summarily rejected parking changes on parts of Palm Avenue and Seacoast Drive suggested by the city’s Public Safety Department.

Councilman Bobby Patton said he can support changing a few 20­-minute parking spaces to two hours but is “100 percent against” other proposed changes.

“What I see happening here is it’s going to cause a ripple effect of parking problems into the residential areas. Even though we have paid lots, why go to the lots when you can park in front of someone’s house?” he asked.

Since many surfers and visitors may need more than two hours, tickets people find on their windshield may hurt instead of help businesses at beachfront commercial corridors.

“I think people are going to be detrimentally affected by this, and once they get a ticket they’re going to go find another beach to go to,” he said.

The resolution also suggested that future restrictions to street parking be passed by resolution instead of ordinance. Resolutions would allow changes to be made at a single meeting in a matter of days instead of an ordinance which may require multiple meetings over the course of a month or two.

Chuck Quisenberry heard about the parking changes Monday and took the day off work Tuesday to hang flyers and let people know about the proposed changes. He called the lack of public notice about the possible changes and the absence of opinions gathered at public workshops in the city’s report “un­American.”

His brother Fred stood on the corner of 9th Street and Palm Avenue for hours Wednesday with signs to inform people about the meeting and protest the parking change.

“This guy has never protested anything, not even in the 60s,” Chuck said about his brother. Chuck attended public forums to discuss potential changes to beach parking held last fall.

“I was here when the 200 people were here,” he said. “We didn’t say ‘Oh we would prefer two­ hour parking.’ We said ‘We don’t need it and it’s unnecessary.'”

In decades of living in IB, parking on the beach has never been a problem, Chuck said, and particularly after the city acquired new, quicker machines to write tickets, the proposed changes just seem like a way to generate revenue for the city.

“At my job I take an ethics training. And one of the things they tell me in ethics training is the smell test: It doesn’t have to be illegal, but if it smells weird and funky, there’s something going on.”

The proposed time change comes after meetings with the public in November and December and subsequent meetings with local business groups and business owners on Seacoast Drive.

Residents and business owners were initially told the results of public forums would be shared with City Council to decide what to do next. Instead Public Safety Department staff concluded that a majority of business owners in the area supported a two­hour time limit.

No members of local business organizations or business owners spoke at the meeting Wednesday.

Parking restrictions may not be enacted today, said Assistant City Manager Greg Wade, but may be necessary in the future to meet objectives outlined in the city’s general plan and balance the needs of residents, visitors and businesses.

“If this was about money we’d go out and enforce today and make a lot of money. At least until the community got wise to the fact that we were enforcing those parking areas because people do not park there for 20 minutes. I think this was truly about making a parking plan that makes sense for everybody,” Wade said.

“I just don’t think what we have before us has anything or something I can support,” said Mayor Jim Janney. “There is actually quite a bit of parking that can support what’s happening on Seacoast Drive.”

“I think the ripple effect to our neighborhoods next to the beach would be drastically affected,” Janney said.

That impact to residential areas “needs to be addressed before we even consider what we’re doing in a commercial area,” he said.

The resolution also called for parking to be restricted during street sweeping on Monday mornings twice a month on the following streets:

  • Palm Avenue from Seacoast Drive to 5th Street
  • Imperial Beach Boulevard from Seacoast Drive to 4th Street
  • Seacoast Drive from Palm Avenue to Encanto Avenue

Councilman Ed Spriggs said he could support parking changes for street sweeping but staff needs to provide City Council and residents a better explanation of why they should move their cars in the morning.

“I don’t want to have to see any of our residents having to run out with their bathrobe on without there being good reasons in terms of public policy for that,” he said.

As part of a state mandate, every street in Imperial Beach is swept once a month, said Public Works Department director Hank Levien, however only a few streets near the beach require cars move during street sweeping.

Street sweeping should be addressed “city wide, not just for one little zone there,” Janney said. A requirement that people move their cars would also require additional signs that “take away from the ambiance of the area.”

City staff may return in the future to address street sweeping separate from parking time restrictions.

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