MOVE Alliance calls on Vista to revise parking policy to encourage more smart growth projects
VISTA, CA - Excessive parking requirements by the Vista City Council eliminated a smart growth project and could deter similar mixed-use developments, which would be a blow to the environment and the economy.
“The additional parking requirements killed this project, which is great loss for the community,” said Jim Stone, Executive Director of Circulate San Diego, the parent organization of MOVE Alliance.
Stone added: “Vista’s excessive parking requirements near transit also spell trouble for future smart growth projects and that’s really unfortunate because we know projects like Vista Santa Fe are good for the environment, the economy, and for residents. They’re quality-of-life game changers.”
Vista’s excessive parking requirements of new developments, adopted in 2010, including projects on or near the Sprinter Line, will encourage more sprawl and stifle smart growth projects.
The rejected smart growth project was known as G8’s Vista Santa Fe project, a mixed-use development that would have been located in a designated Smart Growth area across the street from the Sprinter Line in Vista Village. It was expected to serve as a “demonstration project” for bringing mixed use, transit-oriented development to Vista, as envisioned by the City. It would have served an area where 65 percent of people drive to work and have a higher rate of poverty compared to the rest of Vista. It was an ideal project to help Vista implement its adopted smart growth vision plan, and it would have complemented Vista’s new affordable transit-oriented projects nearby.
Vista City Council initially supported the project, which would have been consistent with the smart growth focused General Plan Vista adopted in 2012, and the region’s strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Vista Santa Fe project also earned the endorsement of MOVE Alliance, a coalition of smart growth experts that endorses projects that demonstrate a commitment to fostering sustainable communities and reducing vehicle miles traveled.
The original plan called for 130 parking spaces, which was required by the City of Vista. But the city altered its municipal code and that change meant Vista Santa Fe would have had to provide 259 parking spaces – in the heart of Vista’s downtown and across the street from the Sprinter and Breeze transit stations. In February 2013, the developer proposed a plan to build 212 parking spaces onsite, and earlier this year, the developer offered to build a stand-alone parking garage in response to the Planning Commission’s request for more parking at the site.
Ultimately, Vista’s Mayor and City Council opted to not follow the City’s policy to “develop and offer incentives for mixed-use development, such as reduced parking requirements, expedited permit processing, and/or lot consolidation assistance.”
The Mayor and Council were unsatisfied by the developer’s attempt to meet the burdensome parking requirement, and stopped the smart growth project by recently voting to rescind the City’s initial approval.
The rejection of this project isn’t sitting well with some Vista residents.
"The parking requirements are unreasonable,” said Lisa Wellens, a Vista resident who also is a member of Bike Walk Vista Committee and the City of Vista Climate Action Plan Stakeholder Group. “One of the main reasons my husband and I chose to live in downtown Vista is so that we could get rid of our second car. Equating more parking with progress is backward thinking. This area should be developed as a mixed use housing/business with a beautiful plaza. People enjoy downtown for that kind of experience."
It is important to note two affordable housing projects are currently under construction near the Vista Village Transit Center, and the City approved reduced parking requirements for each of these projects. Further, in an effort to increase mobility, the City is implementing a “road diet” (scaling back from 4 to 2 lanes) on Santa Fe Avenue directly south of the transit center, which will significantly improve walkability, public access, and connections to the transit center, businesses, and the future Inland Rail Trail in the downtown area. These smart growth successes are commendable, but more clearly needs to be done in Vista.
MOVE Alliance is urging the Vista City Council to re-evaulate the City’s increased parking requirements as it prepares its Downtown Specific Plan update, funded by SANDAG Smart Growth funds.
Contact: Tony Manolatos
About: MOVE Alliance provides formal endorsement for proposed projects that demonstrate a commitment to creating, preserving and enhancing sustainable transit-oriented communities in the San Diego region. The MOVE Alliance is a coalition including Circulate San Diego, partner organizations and individuals with expertise in the areas of sustainable transit-oriented development. G8’s Vista Santa Fe was endorsed by the MOVE Alliance in 2013.