Statement: “The zoo, for example, has to turn away people 100 days out of the year,” said Tomas Herrera-Mishler, CEO of the Balboa Park Conservancy, during a Voice of San Diego live podcast at Thorn St. Brewery on July 23.
Analysis: As Balboa Park planners look to polish what’s known as the crown jewel of San Diego, a major question is how much of a problem parking is for visitors.
Tomas Herrera-Mishler, who took over as director of the nonprofit park conservancy in June, said a lack of parking spaces hurts the bottom lines of the park’s major institutions.
“I do think that there is a capacity problem,” he said. “The zoo, for example, has to turn away people 100 days out of the year, and that’s a huge economic disadvantage to our community.”
If true, that’s a strong argument for more parking in the park, something that would only add to the city’s $500 million to-do list of park repairs and improvements.
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I think the photos of empty parking lots on the 4th of July that Andrew Keats tweeted totally debunks Jacobs and the park tenants claims about the park having too little parking. Thanks to Andrew and VOSD for injecting a little reality into this farce. There are tons of parking in Balboa Park. Some park tenants are upset because all that parking isn't in front of the buildings they occupy with sweetheart leases from the city. This isn't about making the park accessible to tourists and residents, its about catering to already spoiled park "institution" boards and management who want front row parking spaces.
I think that it is important to have adequate parking wherever you go. The Zoo especially because I don't often make the trip there, and when I do I really want to be able to stay and get in. I do kind of wish that they could add a parking garage for visitors or just add more space. Or, maybe I should just go when it is less crowded. http://www.maxpavingkc.com/services.html
Charge for parking and encourage transit/bike/motorcycle/cab/lyft/uber/carpool use. It's a park, one of the few places you can go in this sprawling city to escape endless fields of asphalt. Also, it's kind of dumb that I don't use a parking spot but pay just as much as people who park a whole RV there.
Derek Hoffman beat me to the comment that those who left the zoo lot after not finding a space may well have parked elsewhere including along Park Blvd. (often, my preference if I come up on a busy day). There also are the very large Inspiration Point parking lot and the 500-space lot just across Park Blvd. from Inspiration Pt., both served by a shuttle to Plaza de Panama, or the Pepper Grove lot near the Space Theater - it's not such a long walk to the zoo from those locations.
The #7 bus runs quite frequently along Park Blvd. so locals could choose to use that and leave spaces for visitors not familiar with the Park. After all, people do manage to get to the Central Mesa for Earth Fair and December Nights. Earth Fair manages to arrange parking at the City College parking structures with shuttles to the park, why can't the City do something similar on weekend when City College parking is available.
I also took issue with Mr. Herrera-Mishler's statement (at the C-3 Breakfast Dialogue) about how little parking is left available on Tuesdays. It's ONE Tuesday a month when there's an additional crowd seeking parking to visit museums on the Free Tuesday. And I would guess that most of those complaining they couldn't find parking did not look at either of the lots adjacent to Park Blvd., Inspiration Point, the 500-space lot at Park & Presidents Way, or Pepper Grove (adjacent to the Space Theater lot). As in most cases elsewhere, earlier is always better if a visitor thinks there will be a high demand for parking.
Lastly, as one commenter pointed out, better signage would make a huge difference so that people are made aware of alternative parking and informed at the entry of the zoo lot if it's filled. The latter probably will require some substantial investment for tracking but still lots less than the cost of a new parking structure.
Not mentioned is that the zoo itself is also quite full when the parking lot is full. Trying to squeeze more people into the zoo on the most crowded days isn't necessarily the best idea.
How many of the supposed people turned away would benefit from alternative transportation to the park, whether it be an aerial tram from Downtown, or a streetcar? Is adding more parking the right solution to this problem?
@William Schneider Maybe those people who "turned away" just parked in one of the parking lots further out. I think some signs directing traffic to those lots would be a lot cheaper than building a new parking garage.
And to get really fancy, they could have electronic signs that indicate when the lot is full, so people don't have to circle the lot just to discover that for themselves.
@William Schneider Excellent question. As San Diego looks to build more progressive transit services and get away from its car-centric culture it'd be an important step to make public amenities like Balboa Park more accessible by alternative forms of transportation.
@William Schneider The Mid-City Rapid (215) from SDSU to downtown stops at the zoo and has connections to the trolley at each end of the route and at the City College Transit Center. So excellent public transit already exists to the zoo as well as Balboa Park. The zoo web site also lists the available transit options: http://zoo.sandiegozoo.org/content/hours-directions