Originally Online at San Diego City News

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parking nightmare
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In Uptown San Diego the lights are just coming on for the evening and like most nights at rush hour in Hillcrest, parking is at a premium.

A man in a black Honda brakes hard and throws the transmission into reverse, a look of triumph on his face. He’s done the impossible. He’s found a parking space right on University Avenue. Most people are not often so lucky.

“As with most urban areas there is always a shortage of parking,” said Hillcrest property owner Gary Wong at the Hillcrest Business Association open house Wednesday night. “I think a solution is much needed.”

The open house, held at D Bar Restaurant, gave Hillcrest community members a chance to discuss how neighborhood and city leaders are working to improve parking in the area.

Citywide lack of parking has long been a point of concern for San Diego residents and business owners. The problem is most acute in the Hillcrest area, said City Council President Todd Gloria.

“One of the frustrations I have, is yes we have a problem, but we also have the resources to solve the problem.”

Existing resources including parking lots like the one on the corner of Seventh and Robinson Avenues are not available to the public when they should be, Gloria said.

In the past the Uptown Parking District unwisely used its funding studying the parking issue and saving for large parking structures that would never be built, according to Gloria.

“Everyone knows we have a problem,” Gloria said. “What is there to study?”

“We don’t need a big monstrosity parking garage. We can do better than that,” he later added.

The Uptown Parking District has since changed its focus, according to John Semerau, one of its commissioners who admitted there had been some problems with the parking district in the past.

“As a parking commission we’re focusing on everything we can to fix the problem” Semerau said. “We’re moving forward and we’re getting projects approved.”

Working closely with neighborhood organizations like the HBA and the Hillcrest Town Council, the parking district plans to alleviate some of the trouble by pushing for more public transit in the area and improved facilities for active transportation such as bicycling.

“People either live here or they drive here,” said Benjamin Nichols, HBA’s executive director. He said part of the problem is not enough options for commuting to Hillcrest.

“I think the perception of a parking problem is a bigger problem than the parking problem,” Nichols added. If you go to Hillcrest on the weekend, parking is going to be a challenge but this is not always the case, Nichols said.

It was also announced at the HBA open house that starting in April complementary shuttle rides through Old Town Trolley Tours will be available Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the busiest nights of the week for Hillcrest streets.

Gloria, who said the parking district is much more responsive than it has been in the past, is also pressing them and other organizations to implement efficiency solutions like widening certain streets to accommodate angled parking instead of traditional tandem parking which uses more space.