Lisa Rodarti, San Clemente
Not long ago, shopping and dining on Avenida Del Mar in the historic downtown area of San Clemente was a pleasure. Shopkeepers and restaurant owners worked very hard to create a shopping and dining experience with that lovely small town ambiance and care and shoppers enjoyed their day exploring shops and dining on Del Mar.
I was dismayed to hear from several of my customers in December how frustrated they were that parking was so hard to find, and then while they had been eating and shopping received parking tickets. They claimed they would not be coming back.
They vented that although they enjoyed what Del Mar and downtown had to offer, they were most frustrated by getting a ticket from parking a few moments after the two-hour cut off time: they simply could not eat and shop in two hours. So, while they were busy spending their money in support of San Clemente’s local merchants—taxpaying and revenue generating companies who employ locals and constantly donate to the many requesting local charities—they now owed funds to the city for a parking violation, and they were miffed.
It is frustrating as a merchant to know that no matter how hard we work, San Clemente city officials seem to be lacking in their support of the needs of their own downtown (and even employ efforts that hurt local business, i.e. frequent ticketing). Very few people can shop and dine in two hours. I live here as well, and I know that most of the time you can rarely find Del Mar parking, even in the outlying all day slots. No parking structure is available nearby—or even in the city’s plans to be created.
So as merchants and restaurants work to attract people, frustration is most often felt by customers who cannot find a spot to park, and when they do, often get ticketed for shopping too long. This is most definitely hurting business downtown and results will be seen as the economy continues to struggle.
Why not offer some metered parking, make time limits more clear, extend the time to three hours, or investigate the possibility of adding a parking structure of some kind to the downtown? It is in all of our interests to maintain a thriving downtown. Some help from the city concerning parking, or lack thereof, would be appreciated. Let’s not create a barrier to business by dismissing the needs of a growing city.