By a 6-0 vote, the City Council voted to study placing a measure on the November 2024 ballot that would tax paid parking to pay for transportation safety and parking modernization improvements. The motion, authored by Councilmembers Gleam Davis, Caroline Torosis and Jesse Zwick directs staff to both create a revenue estimate from such a tax and work with the Coastal Commission to ensure any measure doesn’t violate state laws concerning access to public beaches.

For more details on the proposal, read Next’s preview article from earlier this week.

Advocates in favor of the measure were sprinkled throughout public comment, mostly with examples of how dangerous infrastructure endangered them while walking and bicycling. One resident even testified that he was hit while bicycling to the meeting. The lead image of the article is a screengrab while he was testifying with his bright yellow reflective jacket he was wearing on his trip to the council chambers.

However, any drama was put aside when Councilmember Lana Negrete signaled her support at the start of Council deliberations. Councilmember Christine Parra and Mayor Phil Brock also signaled their support for the study.

“A lot of people have asked me, ‘what about our intersection?’” recounted Zwick who said that after new stop signs were put in at 19th and Idaho following a fatal crash that residents in other parts of the city have asked for safety treatments before there’s a crash.

“I was talking to a family near McKinley (elementary school), and they requested a stop sign near their school. They had been waiting for nearly a year to hear the results of a study as to whether it was warranted. The simple fact of the matter is that we once had five full time employees who served as traffic planners …we now have one. And while we once had many people whose job it was to study and design these improvements, the department of transportation suffered more cuts the past couple of years due to COVID than other departments.”

Included in those cuts was the city’s Safe Routes to School coordinator, and that program has been defunct as a result.

“We absolutely have to restore our Safe Routes to School Program,” continued Torosis who noted that the city’s commitment to Vision Zero transportation planning had waned while the city grappled with the pandemic.

The only concerns raised about the proposal from the dais came from Brock who worried about creating new taxes for residents and that parking fees that are too high could make it onerous for people from around the region to access the beaches.

“I will support the study, but I remain concerned,” Brock stated. “We hope that our budget will recover and all the things (in this proposal) could be accomplished with city resources.”

Councilmember Oscar de la Torre was absent from the meeting and did not vote.

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