By Paul N. Wyatt, Dana Point
Adequate parking within the Town Center is critical for successful revitalization of this area of Dana Point. The 2008 Town Center Plan calls for a minimum of one and preferably two public parking facilities within the Town Center to be built at the beginning of the redevelopment project. These facilities were not built and currently there are no plans to build them.
Area residents have voiced concerns that the lack of central parking causes spill-over into the residential areas adjacent to the Town Center. These concerns have quickly become reality as evidenced at the June 21 City Council meeting where a family described how their dream home has been turned into a nightmare by the parking spill-over from two new restaurants that opened nearby. If the multi-use Town Center becomes the vibrant thriving area that we all hope it will be, the City Council will see many recurrences of distressed residents unless convenient central parking is made available.
The City hoped to avoid building parking facilities by finding a way to share the parking lots of the existing restaurants and businesses in the Town Center. This approach might provide some minimal short-term relief but parking places within private parking lots, with limited hours of availability, and scattered across the Town Center will not eliminate the need for central pubic parking. Attempting to encourage customers to seek out inconvenient Town Center parking by restricting or metering parking in the adjacent residential neighborhoods will not help the Town Center businesses and will do little to reduce the impact on the adjacent residents, in fact this approach risks increasing the impact on the neighborhoods.
For a successful Town Center: all new projects must not contribute to the parking spill-over, they must provide adequate parking for all their residents, and they must provide parking for the customers and employees of their restaurants and businesses by either on-site parking or preferably by contributing the required parking spaces in a public parking facility; and convenient public parking must be available that will allow customers and visitors to come on a moment’s notice and enjoy their experience.
Work on central parking cannot begin too soon. The City of Dana Point should be actively working to acquire property at both ends of the Town Center. The empty lot where the Bates Motel stood, the Post Office truck lot, and the empty lot at the corner of Del Prado and Violet Lantern are all ideal locations. Now that the contentious Measure H and Measure I campaigns are behind us, I urge the Dana Point City Council to initiate a project to provide public parking in the Town Center.[Originally published in the Dana Point Times, 1-Jul-2016, http://www.danapointtimes.com/letter-dana-point-town-center-parking-need-is-urgent/ ]