Little Italy's Business Improvement District prefers to preserve parking spaces rather than allocate street space for bike lanes through the heart of the district.
In a February 23 letter to business owners and residents, Little Italy Association's Luke Vinci and Thomas Cervello informed residents of their opposition to the Downtown Mobility Plan, a transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly set of guidelines proposed to reduce greenhouse gases and promote walking and cycling in San Diego.
At issue for the Little Italy Association is a proposed protected two-lane bike path on Beech and State streets. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Vinci and Cervello say adding the bike path would direct cyclists through "high-traffic freeway intersections" of Grape and Hawthorne streets. It would also ruin the long-awaited prospect of changing head-in parking on Beech Street to diagonal parking, which would add an estimated 50 parking spots to the area.
The association isn't against cycling: they propose adding protected bike lanes on Pacific Highway as the north-south route and on Ash Street as the east-west cycling choices.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼"The proposed [Downtown Mobility Plan] cannot move forward as it is currently recommended by Civic San Diego staff," reads the letter. "In an effort to create safe connectors for our downtown and visiting cyclists, we ask that you voice your support for the [Little Italy and Little Italy Residents Association]-approved alternative...tracks on Pacific Highway and West Ash Street."
If the alternative plan is accepted, cyclists would have to pedal around Little Italy on dedicated bike paths instead of taking more direct, yet less safe, routes into the neighborhood.
The preference of parking over bike lanes is seen in other parts of the city as well.
In Hillcrest, a plan to close a small stretch of University Avenue in order to promote increased walking and cycling into the business core was met with staunch opposition. And while both sides have since agreed to consider alternatives, residents and business owners in Hillcrest and Mission Hills continue to place more importance on parking over pedestrian-friendly modes of transportation.
The Uptown Community Parking District has stood firm in opposing any plan that removes parking in Hillcrest.
Resistance to such infrastructure changes, say cycling advocates, jeopardizes safety and moves the city further from achieving goals set forth in the city's Climate Action Plan, which makes it a priority to take drivers out of cars and put them onto buses and bikes.
Cyclist and Bike SD boardmember Paul Jamason is among those asking the city to put its foot down and support the Climate Action Plan.
"I'm requesting [that the Climate Change Working Group] perform outreach to city-affiliated parking districts, business districts, and community planning groups to explain the [Climate Action Plan's] legally binding greenhouse-gas reduction targets," Jamason wrote in a February 29. letter to a staffer in councilmember David Alvarez’s office.
"While street parking is very important," says the letter, "there may need to be some parking loss to accommodate other transit modes. In addition, existing street parking resources are not being maximized in Uptown, where additional parking meters, demand-based pricing, and extended meter hours have all been delayed."
Representatives from Civic San Diego and the city will continue to appear at community meetings for input on the Downtown Mobility Plan. The council is expected to consider the plan within the next few months, after public review is complete.