La Jolla traffic board denies request for valet service at Bird Rock eatery due to ‘huge’ potential impacts

With new restaurant Paradisaea opening Sept. 25 in Bird Rock, a request was made to the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board to consider approving the conversion of two parking spaces just outside the restaurant at 5680 La Jolla Blvd. to a valet zone, during the board’s Sept. 22 meeting online.

T&T voted to block a proposed valet stand, asking the petitioner to return with more information.

Nick Bernal of Preferred Valet Parking said Paradisaea owner Eric Kleinbub asked Bernal to create the valet zone out of the concern for “the potential negative impacts that additional parking [demand] might have on the community” once the restaurant opens.

As the restaurant is adjacent to a residential area, the idea is to mitigate any diners taking residential parking spots.

The two spots planned for valet are currently 15-minute parking spaces, Bernal said; valet drivers would take cars to a private lot at 5575 La Jolla Blvd.

“That lot holds approximately 20 to 25 cars, which we feel would be sufficient for the parking needs,” Bernal said, adding that the restaurant also has about six spaces behind it that would allow for overflow parking.

The valet hours would be from 6 to 10 pm Thursday through Sunday nights.

Bernal said eventually, valet might be expanded to seven days a week, should community response to the service be positive.

T&T board member Nancy Warwick expressed concerns with the valet service; other La Jollans followed suit.

“If you’re constantly backing out with the valet, I see that impacting the traffic flow,” she said, noting that there is a crosswalk right behind where valets would back out.

Bernal said valet staff would be properly trained to provide each other signals for safe backing out and monitor pedestrian activity.

La Jolla Shores Association President Janie Emerson suggested moving the parking spaces so they wouldn’t interfere with the crosswalk.

“That could be an idea we could entertain,” Bernal said.

La Jolla resident Don Schmidt said La Jolla Boulevard “was not engineered for constant pulling in and pulling out and people queuing up.”

“If this backs up, you’re going to get a lot of angry people,” he said, with drivers diverting through the residential streets, defeating the purpose of the original street plan.

Bird Rock Community Council secretary Barbara Dunbar said “the impact on traffic is going to be huge.”

She also wanted to see designs for the valet signage and stands and anything that would encroach into the public right of way.

“That’s a huge concern and a huge consideration,” she said.

Planned District Ordinance Chairwoman Deborah Marengo urged T&T to request Bernal return with plans for what a valet stand would look like in the public right of way.

Emerson and Marengo also said the valet service should be open to anyone regardless of destination; Bernal said he would recommend to Kleinbub that the valet services be open to more than just restaurant patrons.

T&T member Bill Podway moved to turn down Bernal’s request for a valet stand as presented, which the board unanimously to support.

Bernal said he took notes on the concerns and would return to a future meeting.

La Jolla Boulevard speed limit

Bird Rock resident Harry Bubbins brought forth a proposal to reduce the speed limit on a southern stretch of La Jolla Boulevard between Loring and Colima streets, an idea that found encouragement at the Sept. 6 BRCC meeting.

The current 35 mph limit “is too fast,” said Bubbins, also a member of local volunteer group Respect Bird Rock and BRCC. “It’s faster than any other road going into La Jolla Boulevard anywhere else.”

He said he’s reluctant to suggest a speed limit. “We’re not going to try to … create discord; we just want to say it needs to be lower,” he said.

Bubbins said more than 100 people have signed a petition he started on change.org to lower the speed limit.

Scott Rose, a resident of north Pacific Beach whose balcony overlooks La Jolla Boulevard, said the current speed limit makes the “complex intersections” in his area “worse than they otherwise might be” and that speeding cars and bicyclists make for a dangerous situation for pedestrians and others.

The discussion-only item was with further agreement.

Earley said “35 [mph] is a little much” with pedestrian crossings in the area.

Dunbar also noted there should be a 15 mph sign as drivers approach the roundabout on La Jolla Boulevard at Colima Street, but “that sign is missing.”

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