Wednesday, November 02, 2005 | Virtual Candidate Forum

Editor’s note: Voice of San Diego over the last several weeks has asked readers and community members about the issues they are interested in knowing more about when they cast votes Nov. 8 for District 2 and 8 City Council candidates. Voice will be publishing information about citywide and district-specific issues as Election Day nears. Candidates were provided with a chance to respond and state their position on each topic. The candidates’ submissions have been edited for style, grammar and clarity.

Along with the throngs of voters being wooed by the 17 candidates vying for the District 2 council seat, the swath of beach and downtown neighborhoods plays host to some of the city’s serious parking conundrums.

Beach communities feel the parking strain on the weekends and especially in the summer. The city’s core is flooded with professionals who flock to their high-rise office, as in any metropolitan downtown, and the continued build-up there will just make available parking spots more scant. In the evenings, residents compete with the bar-hoppers both downtown and in Pacific Beach.

Five San Diego neighborhoods – in or near Mesa College, San Diego State University, Logan Heights, Hillcrest and Cortez Hill – have successfully incorporated parking permit districts to shelter their precious street parking. Residents and businesses in these areas pay $14 every year for a placard alerting meter maids that they are permitted to park in designated areas. Residents like restricting street parking to ensure they have a spot, although some businesses complain that it drives away potential customers by creating a parking shortage.

Although the city charges for the parking placards, the fees paid are a partial recovery of the actual cost associated with administering and enforcing the districts. In the last budget year, the City Manager’s Office proposed recovering more of the expense by raising the placard fees, although the manager’s recommended increase was lessened during budget proceedings and subsequently killed altogether when it came time to codify the hike.

Also in the last budget season, city administrators proposed charging non-residents a daily maximum of $10 to park at 44 lots near the beaches and Mission Bay. Under the plan, residents would not be charged as long as they produce a valid driver’s license with a San Diego address. The council rejected the fee – which would have been charged during day hours between Memorial Day and Labor Day – after several coastal business owners testified that parking costs could ward off potential shoppers. Had the council approved the fee, which was expected to raise nearly $375,000 in the pay-to-park lots’ first year and $1.1 million every year after that, the California Coastal Commission would also have had to OK the idea.

Council candidates will have to grapple with these parking issues, where the interests of District 2 may oppose those of the city’s strained budget. Also, the newly-elected District 2 council member may have a chance to weigh in on how the ever-expanding downtown will account for new parking demand if the community plan update, which is scheduled to be heard by the City Council on Nov. 15, is postponed.

Read candidates’ responses and ideas here.

Please contact Evan McLaughlin directly at

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