Leaders in Balboa Park agree: there isn’t enough parking, and it’s hurting the city’s crown jewel.

There’s a similar level of consensus among parking experts. Charging for the most attractive spaces in the center of the park, they say, could go a long way to solving the parking problem. In fact, doing so might prove that there’s plenty of parking, it just isn’t being used very efficiently.

In her ongoing attempt to understand Balboa Park’s problems and highlight efforts to fix them, reporter Lisa Halverstadt asked a bunch of national parking experts what they think of the Park’s parking issues.

Paid parking in the park is about to get a big hearing. The city’s plan is to remove cars and roads from the center of the park and replace the spots with an 800-car underground garage with paid parking, at the site of the current lot behind the organ pavilion.

“What you have right now is not a parking supply problem but a parking management problem,” one of those experts said.

One issue paid parking would take care of immediately, they said, is the tendency of park employees to take the best spots in the park hours before the first visitors arrive. If it cost a few bucks to park there, most museum workers would choose to park farther away and walk in, leaving the close spots for visitors.

One of the experts Halverstadt talked to is literally famous for his research on free parking and the often overlooked costs it imposes on cities. His name is Donald Shoup, a retired professor from UCLA, and author of the High Cost of Free Parking. He’s inspired followers who call themselves Shoupistas.

After talking to Halverstadt about Balboa Park’s parking issue, he crafted an extended analogy on the situation – comparing parking spaces to hamburgers and filet mignon – that proposes a new way to think about fixing things.

More Questions on Police Body-Worn Camera Policy

Earlier this week, San Diego law enforcement officials announced a policy outlining when they’ll release footage caught on police body-worn cameras. It came just a week after an SDPD officer was tragically killed and another critically injured by a gunman.

That incident was mostly not caught on film, however, because the surviving officer didn’t turn his camera on until after the wounded shooter was running off. Police chief Shelley Zimmerman has said Officer Wade Irwin acted heroically to return fire and turn on his camera when he did.

The incident, according to a new Associated Press story, highlights another major policy issue facing the increasingly-prevalent cameras. Disclosure policies are important, but the cameras are only useful when policies outlining when they need to be turned on are strictly followed. Cities across the country are learning that isn’t always the case.

Marijuana, Faulconer’s Gateway Tax?

Mayor Kevin Faulconer doesn’t like tax increases. Years ago he was against a city sales tax increase to help a woeful budget picture. He touts that his plan to build a new Chargers stadium doesn’t require a tax hike. He made a rare trip to the San Diego Association of Governments this year to vote against putting a countywide tax hike for transportation on the November ballot (it’s on the ballot anyway).

He did imply he would support a tax for an expansion of the Convention Center. He backed off that.

Looks like, though, he has found a tax increase he can support. According to a story by Michael Smolens at the San Diego Union-Tribune, Faulconer supports a measure that would tax recreational marijuana in the city if state voters legalize the drug in November. Smolens wonders if marijuana could be a gateway tax to get Faulconer’s support for the Chargers’ plan to raise hotel taxes for a new stadium.

The Life of San Diego’s Homeless Murders Suspect

The U-T this weekend published a thorough investigation into the past of the man accused of killing three homeless men and critically injuring two others this summer.

He was raised in Coronado and had a criminal history, has battled mental health issues and has consistently been considered a loner – including in Alpha Square, the East Village apartment complex for homeless people in which he was living during his killing spree.

In Other News

Filmmakers are working on a documentary on the 1984 massacre at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro in which 21 people were killed and 19 others injured. The movie is called 77 minutes, after the amount of time it took a SWAT team to take down the shooter. (NBC 7 San Diego)

Elliott Hirshman has been SDSU’s president for five years, and he celebrated the anniversary this year by fending off calls for his resignation due to his handling of racist attacks against some of his students. The school’s fundraising and graduation rates have also surged under his tenure, and he’s made an effort to better connect the school to the regional economy. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Chargers’ dispute with its top draft pick has reached a new peak: The player’s mom apparently wrote on Facebook that the family should have done to San Diego what Eli Manning did many years ago. (Manning, of course, refused to play here.) It’s a sore spot.

A charter fishing crew hooked a 500 pound mako shark, and had its cell phone cameras rolling as the shark put on a show made for YouTube as it jumped high out of the water before finally breaking the line and getting out of Dodge. (10 News)

Andrew Keatts

I'm Andrew Keatts, a managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at andrew.keatts@voiceofsandiego.org...

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