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From today’s U-T:

Little Italy project has a developer
Plan includes up to 700 parking spots for public

Finding a parking spot in Little Italy will be a whole lot easier under a proposed development that would provide up to 700 spaces for public use on nights and weekends.

This deserves some perspective. First, these will be paid parking spots and it is not hard to find paid parking spots if you can’t find a free one in Little Italy on a night or weekend. Not hard at all. That’s bound to get worse, I suppose, but let’s be clear.

Secondly, the headline implies we’ll get 700 new public parking spots. Hmm, let’s review:

The county of San Diego has a plan that Ron Roberts deserves credit for championing. They plan to rip out the two massive parking lots that sit on both the north side of the County Administration Building and the south side. Those parking lots encompass 16.62 acres, which the county wants to turn to a park.

That’s great. Really. Roberts and his staff don’t believe me when I tell them how enthusiastic I am about it.

Here’s Roberts’ vision:

But those old parking lots reserve 992 spaces for county employees and 178 for visitors to the county building. County employees will have to park somewhere. I mean, how funny would it be if the legendarily transit-averse county supervisors suddenly had the gall to ask their thousands of employees to use public transit to get to work?

If you can’t tell, I think that would be very funny.

No, the county, under Roberts’ lead, engineered a plan to build this new parking garage in Little Italy. And they’re using a public-private partnership that is now the preferred way to plan big civic projects in San Diego.

As the U-T reports, the developer of that new parking garage plans to have it hold 968 parking spaces. But the new development will also have 268 apartments. So, I suppose if you assume that each apartment will only get one of those spots, then that leaves 700 spots available. (These apartments are characterized as “luxury” places. It’s not very luxurious to only have one spot per apartment.)

Two small parking garages under the new waterfront park will be built but they comprise about 160 spots total and I would bet that you have to be pretty cool to get one of those spots.

The environmental impact report the county did on its waterfront park plan found that county employees were going to need 671 parking spaces. And visitors to the county building have always enjoyed parking for free for two hours in one of the 178 visitor spots. Those will be eliminated as well.

So let’s look back. Yes, hundreds of new parking spots will be built in Little Italy, but hundreds of new parkers will be looking for them.

If you think that you’re going to be able to find a parking spot at lunchtime in Little Italy any easier than you can now, think again. County employees will make sure they get most of the spots in the new garage from 9 to 5.

Now, those county employees will drive home at some point. So, if you’re getting dinner or partying at the Princess Pub and simply can’t find a free space on the street, yes, you will have a new option to pay for parking. There are plenty of parking lots in the area that charge a fee right now, but whatever.

The moral is simple: Support Roberts plan for the vision it has for a new beautiful park on the waterfront if you want to. But don’t let anyone tell you to support it because it will provide more parking.

It will barely replace the parking it eliminates.

SCOTT LEWIS

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