Rancho Santa Fe Association board hopes more green curbs will help boost business

The village of Rancho Santa Fe will soon have more green curbs, as the RSF Association board approved an additional 42 two-hour timed parking spaces at its Aug. 6 meeting. The aim of the new spaces is to increase visits to village retail and restaurants and ease potential customers’ frustration in having to endlessly circle to find a spot.

The Association’s recommendation will now be forwarded to San Diego County to modify the parking ordinances and receive approval from the County Board of Supervisors. It will probably be 90 days before the green paint hits the ground.

RSF Association Planner Larry Roberts met with village merchants in July to hear concerns about the lack of parking in the village. Merchants said there is not enough parking to sustain any kind of retail, and their businesses are suffering as a result.

As Roberts noted, only five pure retail businesses are left in the village — four when Stump’s Market leaves at the end of the year. The majority are real estate offices and bank spaces.

Roberts said they looked at making all of the central village streets two-hour timed parking zones but that would result in the displacement of 87 cars.

“All 87 cars will end up in other areas. All that would do is push the problem from one spot to another,” Roberts said.

The solution Association staff came up with was displacing just some of the cars by adding two-hour spaces in the high-priority areas along Avenida de Acacias, 19 spaces in front of Thyme and Milles Fleur restaurants and Union Bank, 15 spaces on La Granada, and an additional eight spaces on the stretch of La Granada near John Matty Co. and Rancho Santa Fe Flowers & Gifts.

Director Philip Wilkinson asked about different lengths of time for the timed parking, such as one-hour zones or 15-minute zones to allow just enough time for people to run in and get their dry cleaning, for example.

RSF Patrol Chief Matt Wellhouser said in his 35-year history with Rancho Santa Fe, a concern of a mix of parking spaces has been the amount of signage that would be needed to accompany them. Historically, people have not wanted the village to be cluttered with signs. He also said the mix of time limits also poses a challenge for enforcement — Rancho Santa Fe doesn’t have full-time paid parking enforcement officers like the city of Del Mar.

Enforcement of these timed spaces is always a big concern.

“It truly doesn’t matter what you put on the curb if there is no one there to enforce it,” Treasurer Kim Eggleston said.

The Rancho Santa Fe Patrol is not authorized to write parking tickets — that is left to the Association’s supplemental enforcement provided by the California Highway Patrol.

“Matt has been working with the CHP’s supplemental patrols to focus a little bit more on enforcement, and the feedback we’ve received from merchants is that it’s had an impact,” said RSF Association President Ann Boon.

Boon said the board realizes that this step of painting the curbs is only a short-term solution and is only one piece of a long-term parking plan that the new Village Planning Task Force will be considering.

“We’re just trying to help our merchants as much as we can, and this just happens to be the tool that we have at hand,” Boon said.

Ideally, as village landlord Marion Dodson pointed out, there needs to be a place for employee parking, as those are the cars that tend to fill up the village spots. She said she was glad to see the Association approve the new timed spaces at least as a short-term solution for a significant problem.

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