The San Clemente City Council kicked the can further down the road Tuesday, in the words of on one councilman, in considering which parking lot projects to start designing.
Council members told staff they definitely don't want a parking garage and beach shuttle at the Community Center, but that they need more information on the potential cost and legal implications before they would vote to start designing lots. The city is studying lot options in North Beach and in the Pier Bowl/downtown area.
"I know this can has been kicked down the road," said Councilman Tim Brown, "But we're treading on very sensitive ground... and doing so in a very abbreviated timeframe."
Complicating matters is a lawsuit against the city demanding repayment to Talega residents of the $9.7 million in the beach parking fund. That money was collected when the new development was built in anticipation of increased beach use, but has sat in an account for more than two decades, according to the lawsuit for which San Clemente Resident Brad Malamud is acting as attorney.
Malamud outlined his case before council, citing city parking studies and legal deadlines that he asserts require the return of the cash—about $1,500 per resident east of the 5 Freeway.
Further complicating the discussion is the faction in town led by the San Clemente Historical Society who worry that adding more parking downtown would allow developers to satisfy parking provisions required to build three-story additions along Del Mar and its Camino Real intersection. The society vehemently opposed any three-story development there.
The San Clemente Planning Commission on Wednesday will again take up the issue of a potential three-story ban in San Clemente historical areas.
City Manager George Scarborough, however, assured historical society representatives at the council meeting Tuesday that not only do current laws prevent developers from using public parking to satisfy parking requirements, but money in the beach parking fund is legally obligated to be spent for beach parking, preventing future councils from changing the ordinance.
Councilman Bob Baker also directed staff to put together a plan to repay residents any money left over after the hypothetical parking lots were built.