At a special meeting Monday night the City Council approved the creation of a parking district to lessen impacts of those residents living near Santa Paula High School.

City Council sets parking district
boundary around SP High School

August 01, 2014
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly 

Santa Paula Times 

The City Council approved a parking district around Santa Paula High School, an act that will be implemented as soon as possible to beat the start of the new semester on August 13.

The move by the council came after a long discussion on the issue, which has been the subject of numerous reports and citizen complaints - ranging from lack of curbside parking outside their homes to blocked driveways - since first brought to the council in December.

At the July 28 special meeting, various parking options were presented and rejected until the boundaries - which can be changed in the future - were set.

Also discussed was creating diagonal parking on Pleasant Street, just east of the historic Campus on the Hill.

Interim Public Works Director Brian Yanez said a solution for overflow parking at the school, a problem that grew worse over the years and was acerbated by recent school construction, has taken several months of study, neighborhood surveys and meetings.

At issue was whether a parking district should be created and a majority of residents support such an action that Yanez said will present no initial financial impacts to residents.

Sixty-three percent of residents that responded to the survey were in favor of a parking district.

Yanez said now the city will continue to work with residents to establish hours and other details of the district which he noted can be modified at any time.

“Even if we implement a district, it has to be something the residents can live with,” he noted.

Several public speakers addressed various issues with one stating she did not understand the survey and another objecting to the school district’s plans to tear down houses on Palm Court to create more parking, described as “A cure worse than the disease... “

One person said a parking district could adversely affect those visiting the campus at night for classes and meetings and that the area is unsafe due to sidewalk hazards and gang activity.

Michele Kolbeck said she was not speaking as a SPUSD Board Member; she also serves on the city and district sub-committee.

“Parking issues,” did not happen overnight and Kolbeck said the city and school must work together: “We do need solutions for  parking,” and overall, “We need to collaborate... “

SPUSD Board Member Chris Wilson said he did not like the thought of the city spending $30,000 on signage and “pouring concrete” for something the district expects to get better.

“We’ve attempted to have joint meetings,” with joint school and city subcommittee members Councilmen Ralph Fernandez and Bob Gonzales, “and I think those could be productive,” but Wilson said such meetings have not taken place.

“We are hemmed in and there is no other place to go,” but Wilson said once construction is finished the parking issue “won’t go away completely but it will be far less than what it is now... “

Fernandez said as a parent and SPHS pool user he was “on both sides of the fence” because he can appreciate the frustration of the residents while still needing to access the campus.

He suggested diagonal  parking be studied for Pleasant Street and Virginia Terrace as a way to provide more spaces. 

Councilman Martin Hernandez questioned why it had taken so long for the issue to be finalized: “It’s been the same old thing,” with staff reports asking for direction on options including a parking district.

Councilman Bob Gonzales agreed that diagonal parking on Pleasant Street “is a good idea” that should be studied and that police presence for parking enforcement during special events should continue.

Mayor Rick Cook said the city offered the high school property for a baseball field near Harding Park if they wanted to turn the campus facility into a parking area, but the idea was rejected.

Several motions of boundaries were proposed and rejected by the council and Hernandez said the parking district should be far reaching: “Every street was in favor... maybe the school board is not but I was voted in by the residents if that’s what they’re asking for,” Hernandez said, “I’m not going to second guess our taxpayers... “

The council approved the boundary with 3-1 Hernandez casting the nay vote. Councilman Jim Tovias has recused himself from the issue because of the proximity of his home to the high school.

City Manager Jaime Fontes said the boundary would be implemented “as soon as possible... we are cognizant about school starting,” August 13.

Yanez said later that “With the modification we have approximately 69 residents that will be part of the Parking District,” as defined by the following boundaries: All of Palm Court (with the exception to possibly leave the area adjacent to the pool and in front of the stadium entrance open with no residences there); Santa Paula Street north side from Olive to Palm Court; Santa Paula Street south side from Olive to 6th Street; and 6th Street the east side, from Santa Paula Street to Virginia Terrace.

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