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Out of the Blue: Land purchase means parking structure not needed

October 31, 2013|By Billy Fried

When there are so many disparate plans and elements governing a city's management, one needs a machete to hack through the morass.

We have the general plan, the Downtown Specific Plan, the Transportation, Circulation and Growth Management Element, the Land Use Element, the Vision Laguna 2030 Plan, and of course all the Coastal Development Plans.

Those who make a living in the arcana of city policy have a weapon of mass disruption — obfuscation. Thousands of pages of policies, action items and requirements must be sifted through to determine if a project is in compliance with relevant codes.

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This can work against an applicant when city staff interprets an esoteric law from 1970 that denies development. And the opposite is true when city staff wishes to support a project or point of view.

Such was the case at the Oct. 15 City Council meeting, when community development head John Montgomery dug for a response to my last column. I had asserted that the California Coastal Commission no longer requires one-for-one replacement parking for new developments — like the proposed Village Entrance Project.

Montgomery stated that, according to our transportation element, "When approving changes in intensity of land uses in the CBD (Central Business District), preserve all existing parking by assuring replacement on a one-for-one basis."

Two problems with that:

1) What increase in intensity is there when you turn a parking lot into another parking lot? A change of intensity refers to projects like a retail store becoming a restaurant.

2) The site of the proposed Village Entrance Project is not in the Central Business District — where the one-for-one replacement applies. A color map listed on the city website shows clearly that the entire Village Entrance Project would be in the Civic Arts District, which does not require one-for-one replacement of parking.

I can only imagine how full a plate Montgomery has, but with all of our confusing, overlapping documents, shouldn't the location of the proposed entrance be the first order of business?

Montgomery also cited the Coastal Commission, whose members said they would be "concerned with any negative impact on parking." Of course they would be. Their job is to ensure fair beach access and also to encourage alternative transportation that would lessen traffic and congestion, in conformity with the state's climate goals and Complete Streets mandate.

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