By Karen Billing
A recent Rancho Santa Fe Association study has concluded that there is not a parking shortage in the village, but there are many people who don’t follow the timed parking rules, often staying well past the one- and two-hour limits.
“There does not appear to be an overall parking shortage in the village as a whole,” said Ivan Holler, Covenant administrator. “The peak demand in the village core exceeds 90 percent, but parking is consistently available in the village perimeter.”
While conducting its study, the RSF Association observed several timed parking violations in the one hour and two hour limited parking zones, many times the offense committed by the same people every day. The staff believes that consistent parking enforcement of the timed spaces by the Association’s overtime CHP (California Highway Patrol) officers would increase turnover and free up more spaces.
The Association board of directors voted to authorize the CHP officers to enforce the timed parking regulations in addition to their ongoing traffic enforcement duties.
As a follow up, a three-day parking survey will be conducted 60 days after the CHP begins parking enforcement to see how it is working.
RSF Association Director Anne Feighner said she fully supported the idea of enforcement and hopes it changes people’s perceptions of the village. Feighner said she hopes it sends a message of “Please come and visit out local businesses.”
“The report was extremely thorough and well done and reflected in a better way than in the past the real conditions that exist,” director Dick Doughty said. “We really do have adequate spaces available, it’s just that we don’t use them in a way that suits everybody.”
He said that although many merchants complain about a lack of parking, the situation isn’t helped when employees of village businesses park in front of their offices all day. He said the merchants and offices can really help be a solution to the problem by parking in the perimeter and walking a couple blocks, leaving spaces open in the village core.
“I don’t think the village deserves all the abuse it gets in terms of parking,” Doughty said.
Staff conducted the survey during a two-week period beginning Dec. 19-Dec. 23. The second week of the survey ran from Jan. 13-19. To evaluate the turnover of the timed parking spaces in the village, the spaces were surveyed four times a day at two-hour intervals at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
The survey counted available and occupied spaces and the number of occupied spaces was expressed as a percentage in the study. They found that on average 58 percent of the overall spaces were occupied at 9 a.m., 70 percent at 11 a.m., 74 percent at 1 p.m. and 61 percent were occupied at 3 p.m.
Limited to just the spaces in the village core, the percentage of occupied spaces was much higher. The highest rate was 90 percent on average at 1 p.m. in the village. The spaces are 76 percent occupied in the village core at 9 a.m., 86 percent at 11 a.m. and 75 percent at 3 p.m.
According to the Institute of Transportation Engineers Parking Generation, a perceived parking shortage occurs at 90 percent.
“The overall percentage of occupied spaces in the village as a whole ranged from 58 to 74 percent,” Holler said.
RSF Association Board President Jack Queen said he was not totally convinced about the report’s findings.
“I don’t want to be associated with the statement that we do not have a parking problem,” Queen said. “I have visited the village recently and often and very definitely have seen a parking problem.”
Queen voiced concerns about the removal of permitted parking in the lots behind the bank that will be used for the new Plaza de Acacias project. He also voiced concern about the unintended consequences of enforcement — moving people more into parking on residential streets.
CHP officers present said that tickets for parking violations would be $62.50 for each violation.