Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Parking, Parking, Parking.....

Proposed Washington Street bike lanes in San Diego, Five Points area.

Lately when it comes to the Washington Street Bike Upgrade project, all I've been hearing about is parking.
Yes, parking.

I had never given even a passing thought to parking management is in San Diego until I began working on the efforts to improve Washington Street.  

I first heard about parking as it's own trade when I started talking to the Mission Hills BID about Walk The Wash.  They all said the idea to make Washington Street bike and pedestrian-friendly was a good idea, but 'just don't eliminate any parking' is what they said.  

I agreed.  After all, parking is really, really hard to find at certain times of the day at Five Points.

I did 3 months worth of tours in the area in late 2012, and when I talked to people about how Washington Street could change for the better with a new footpath and bike lane, no one from the public ever mentioned parking.  They were focused on how great it would be to finally feel safe getting around the area without a car.  Some of them shared other ideas of how to make the area feel more like a community.

But now that the designs for the bike lane are out, a lot of people are suddenly focused on parking because it turns out, you can't keep put in bike lanes and a sidewalk, AND find room to park cars without closing down a lane on Washington Street.  

So, if you can't close a lane, something's gotta give.  It looks like it's the parking at the bottom of the canyon.

I asked the employees one Friday morning at Gelato Vero where they park. They laughed, and said, it's really hard to find parking.  They said if they work in the morning, it's easy.  But if they work an afternoon shift, it's really challenging. They said that many times, the afternoon shift person will call in and say, 'I'm here, but I'm just circling, looking for parking'.  And then the employees will see the person drive by in their car, circling, looking to find a place to park.  The person will usually end up parking up the hill in the neighborhood, so that means the residential area is now a parking lot for the businesses down below.

I think it's strange that a City can keep giving out business licenses, and allowing areas to put in more and more businesses, but not coordinate the infrastructure support of items like additional parking, or increased public transit, or safe bike lanes to support access to the businesses. They do require minimum parking spots for each 1000' of business establishment (2.1 spots in Five Points!) but when you have amazing grub from so many famous places (El Indio and Reagle Beagle to name just two,) it becomes a destination spot for people.  Let's face it, people come to Five Points from all over the County.

I also think it's a little short-sighted of the business owners to keep trying to grow their businesses, without tackling the parking issue.  Why aren't they creating parking lots?  Where do they expect their employees to park? Where do they themselves park in the Five Points area?  I estimate that there are about 40-50 spots needed for employees on any given day in Five Points.

The thing is, if bike lanes go in, it will actually alleviate parking problems because frankly there is no more parking left.  So, by having safe bike lanes, more people can ride their bikes to their jobs, which will free up parking for the area. Patrons can also ride their bikes to Five Points.  

What do you think?  Do you believe parking will become available if more people feel safe getting around by bike?  How long do you think it will take society to transition to this mode of travel?   


  1. I agree that, less cars on the road means less cars parked. and typically, traffic problems explodes as soon as the road reach a certain capacity, under that, everything flows.

    Being less dependent on parking spots, while improving them at the same time is a good way to make the iceberg melt faster.

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