Jeff Smith noon, March 8
Lack of Parking Solutions in Uptown
It's that time of year again, the time when San Diego city councilmembers are asked to approve the contracts for the Community Parking District Program. The occasion doesn't exactly merit a mark on the calendar, that is, except for some residents of Uptown.
On Tuesday, the city council will discuss whether to approve a $3.8 budget for the Uptown Community Parking District. The new contract is nearly identical to last year's agreement, leading residents to believe that they are back to square one.
During the past three years, Uptown denizens spent countless hours alerting the City to issues of high overhead, possible conflicting interests, and overall ineffectiveness of Uptown Partnership, the agency selected to manage parking issues in Uptown. Later, a County Grand Jury released a report highly critical of the parking district. Last December the City chose not to renew the contract and hired an outside consultant to recommend ways to revamp the district.
After all of that, residents once again find themselves on the defensive. Some residents are demanding the council reject the contract and finish restructuring the agency for good. Those opposed object to budget expenditures, such as setting aside $763,690 for parking meter upgrades, and are also upset over the City's reluctance to divide allocations based on the amount of parking meter revenue generated in each individual community. Much of that criticism is coming from the community of Bankers Hill.
"Bankers Hill generated 34 percent of the earned parking income," one resident wrote to one city staffer. "Why should the Bankers Hill community accept a lesser percentage, and why would we wait a year to correct the imbalance? Let’s correct the error now and not wait for another study in 2013 to get it right."
The response was that little will change until the City completes overhauling the parking district.
"You are being asked by city parking staff to slap the Bankers Hill/Park West community in the face," wrote Leo Wilson, chair of the Uptown Planners, in a letter to the city council.
This proposed budget was not presented to or reviewed by any Bankers Hill/Park West stakeholders. Apparently community parking staff is so biased against Bankers Hill/Park West; they decided to slip the Uptown budget through without notice...Given the past controversies involving Uptown Partnership, including an adverse Grand Jury Report, repeated media investigations, etc., you would assume parking staff would go out of its way to provide as widespread a notice as possible."
But some community members say the new contract is only a formality and community members are continuing to work with the City to revamp the parking district.
"The management and structure of the Uptown Parking District is in the midst of change," writes Hillcrest resident and new parking board member Tim Gahagan. "The change is not complete. It is the time of year when the city council conducts its business with the parking districts. City staff did their best to put together a budget in the absence of a functioning parking district management entity. I am optimistic about the new structure."
Gahagan says that eight of the fourteen seats on the new parking district's board have been filled. However, the City has yet to name a community organization in Bankers Hill that can nominate future board members. As of now Bankers Hill is not represented on the board.