Guest Opinion: By John Tomlinson, Mayor, Dana Point
With the ongoing debate about parking in the Town Center/Lantern District—and regardless of your position on the initiatives that will come before the voters on June 7—I thought that it would be appropriate to provide an overview of the proposed Parking Program. This program is now before the California Coastal Commission for consideration.
The adopted Town Center Plan (now the Lantern District Plan) was developed over 30 months and 30 public meetings with Dana Point residents and community stakeholders. It was approved unanimously by the California Coastal Commission and included an implementation program that specifically required the city to develop a parking program that supports the intended mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly district. The resulting Parking Program includes the creation of new parking standards as well as a parking management strategy to maximize the use of underutilized private parking lots for public shared-use.
The development of the Parking Program involved a robust public review process, very similar to the Town Center Plan process. It commenced in 2013 with a Planning Commission study session followed by multiple public meetings with residents, business owners and Coastal Commission staff. As a result of those meetings, Nelson/Nygaard, an internationally recognized expert in parking management, prepared a parking report for the city. Once created, an additional set of meetings were held with interested stakeholders from 2014 through 2015, when it was ultimately adopted.
In response to Nelson/Nygaard’s recommendation, the city started negotiations with private property owners to secure the available underutilized parking spaces in the Lantern District. As a result of these negotiations, the city has secured access to 73 formerly private parking spaces, including those recently acquired at the U.S. Post Office, which is centrally located on Del Prado Avenue. These spaces will be converted to new shared public parking spaces. City staff continues to engage in active negotiations for additional parking to meet our short-term need, until such time as the Lantern District commercial core can economically support a public parking district.
Finally, discussions are also underway with a valet parking provider to maximize use of private parking spaces in the area north of Del Prado and Amber Lantern. In addition, Uber and Lyft drop off/pick up locations are being identified to ease use of their services for patrons of the area.
The city is working hard to implement the Town Center Plan/Lantern District Plan on behalf of our residents. I hope this has helped to clear up any misconceptions regarding the city’s Parking Program in our emerging Lantern District.
For more information please visit www.danapoint.org.