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Council Votes to Take A New Look at Parking Requirements

The Planning Commission will review proposals because of concerns that restaurants are suffering.

The City Council voted Tuesday to take a hard, careful look at . The vote was 4-1 with Councilwoman Barbara Denny voting no. 

“These rules have reached a point that they’re affecting the economic viability of local restaurants,” Councilwoman Carrie Downey said.

She cited as the latest example, saying “They wanted to expand into the space next door, but couldn’t because it had been a pharmacy.”

Restaurants taking over retail spaces have to provide one parking space for every hundred feet of dining space. 

There is also the saga. The owners finally won approval to expand after the council accepted its joint use parking plan with a hardware store down the block from their location at First Street and Orange Avenue. and also faced parking hurdles when they expanded.

While parking rules are contained in a number of city documents, the focus of the discussion was the Orange Avenue Corridor Specific Plan, which was adopted eight years ago. It set the formula for parking to dining space that restaurants are required to meet.

The staff recommended ways that the plan could be adjusted to address the problem:

  • Public/private partnerships, where surplus spaces in commercial lots could be made available for free valet parking. Lots at Vons, Albertson’s and Bank of America were among those offered as examples.  
  • In-lieu fees to fund the partnerships. Restaurants would pay fees to cover the costs.
  • Increasing meter fees to ensure turnover of street parking.
  • Less stringent requirements for fast food restaurants, such as yogurt shops, where people spend little time and often arrive on foot.

The council voted to support the recommendations and send them to the Planning Commission for review. There was also strong support on the council for holding a public workshop.

Knowing that tinkering would require approval by the Coastal Commission and put Coronado’s local coastal plan in jeopardy, didn’t deter the majority, though the consensus among the supporters was to proceed with caution. “Go slowly and carefully,” Councilman Al Ovrom advised.   

“Changes could subject the city to a long and costly fight with the commission, not only over the changes, but over ordinances approved in the past,” Ann McCaull, senior planner told the council.

City Attorney Johanna Canlas concurred. Coronado could face additional conditions, including land use fees, as have other coastal cities that tried to make changes. “Cities that did not comply were faced with a number of sanctions including fines and cease and desist orders,”  she said.  

Denny took this to heart and strongly opposed any changes. “It all looks to be time consuming and risky,” she said.

Others disagreed. “There is nothing wrong to look at what we've done and see if it's working,” Downey said.    

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