The 16-member stakeholder committee board invited the public to participate in the inaugural meeting at Discover PB’s headquarters.
The committee’s reactivation by the Pacific Beach Planning Group (PBPG) is the latest iteration of on-again, off-again attempts to deal with PB’s vexing problems of traffic circulation and parking.
“There’s a need to survey people about parking,” said Discover PB president Elvin Lai, who led the discussion.
Others agreed solutions have been long in coming.
“The last time the committee was really active was about six years ago, and there was an engineering report done that recommended parking meters in the business corridor, which became very controversial,” said Sara Berns, Discover PB’s executive director.
Public testimony on April 17 reflected the diversity and intensity of public opinion on parking and traffic-circulation issues.
Parking meters, in particular, were an ongoing bone of contention with some Pacific Beach residents, who said they were dead-set against having them.
One audience member April 17 went so far as to challenge the necessity of forming a new traffic and parking committee, insisting the status quo of both has not changed appreciably during the last few years.
Committee member Chris Olson, who’s been involved in reassessing parking management in Pacific Beach dating back to the 1990s, said after the meeting that traffic and circulation “was dramatically worse during the last couple years of the ‘alcohol on the beach era’ when our beaches were swarmed by people from all over Southern California.”
Olson said it is “inevitable that the regional population will continue to grow.
“The beaches won’t get any bigger or longer,” he said. “We need to plan for the future and improve access to our regional treasure for everyone.”
Olson said improving beach access is best approached through a system of multiple components.
“We can do nothing and the eventual gridlock will limit access by people in cars and the locals on bikes and skateboards will continue to live in bliss,” he said. “Unfortunately, most locals work outside the beach area, and most local workers live outside the area, so that is certainly something that is not efficient and does not align with sustainability goals.”
Committee member and civil engineer Ambrose Wong said a comprehensive approach needs to be taken with parking and traffic management.
“It’s a system, not just paid parking or not-paid parking,” Wong said. “It’s being able to look at Pacific Beach as a whole, from north PB all the way from the freeway to Crown Point and the beaches.”
Committee member Linda Tarke said it’s also important to consider all the disparate groups in Pacific Beach in determining an appropriate strategy for traffic and parking management.
“There’s a very diverse group of folks who live in PB and they have many different needs,” she said. “I think it’s really important that we hear from the whole community.”