Council puts brakes on SPHS parking
district for proposed school solution

August 22, 2014
Santa Paula News

The brakes were put on the plan to create a parking district for neighborhoods surrounding Santa Paula High School when the City Council agreed to let the school district propose their own solution.

The council, minus Councilman Jim Tovias, who recused himself because he lives within 500 feet of the proposed district, agreed to hold off on implementing the district at the August 18 meeting.

The council had wrestled with creating a district since late 2013 when complaints started to surface that parking challenges in neighborhoods surrounding the historic 6th Street campus had worsened with campus construction.

At Monday’s council meeting several residents within the proposed district voiced concerns of districting impacts ranging from enforcement and schedules to aesthetic impacts signage would have on the historic neighborhoods.

On July 28 after months of reports and discussions the City Council approved the parking district that includes all of Palm Court (excluding the area adjacent to the pool and in front of the stadium entrance), the north side of Santa Paula Street from Olive to Palm Court, Santa Paula Street’s south side from Olive to 6th Street and the east side of 6th Street from Santa Paula Street to Virginia Terrace.

“This is a hot topic,” said Ray Luna, a former mayor who lives outside the district. “I think it is hot because people were not informed about what was going on.”

Luna asked that the council delay finalizing their decision until campus construction is completed to see if more parking will be available.  

Several Santa Paula Unified School District Trustees also attended the meeting and Superintendent Alfonso Gamino said the board would soon meet to discuss parking solutions.

City and school staff have been meeting to address alternatives to a parking district and the results, said Gamino, “We think will benefit both agencies, more importantly,” school neighbors and the community overall. 

“Both agencies can make this work now and when the building is completed,” and he asked for the council to “hold off and give me an opportunity to work with my school board so we can mutually solve this issue.”

Interim Public Works Director Brian Yanez said the city continues to work with residents - who were contacted via various ways and a survey taken - and the school district.

The policies and procedures of the parking district, “Are not set in stone,” and if we “move forward to implement the program it has to work” for all impacted.

Parking challenges are being faced all over the city including some businesses in the Downtown and churches on 9th Street that no longer have use of what had been a public lot.

Crosswalk control is also a school issue that Yanez said is being addressed by the school board.

“The email I received today sounds very positive,” regarding school parking solutions, said Mayor Rick Cook. 

City Manager Jaime Fontes said discussions have included the city and school board’s legal counsels.

City Attorney John Cotti agreed that communications had been positive and a solution other than a parking district could be looming but would depend on a decision by the school board.

Councilman Bob Gonzales said he would be able to table the issue temporarily but Councilman Martin Hernandez questioned if a solution is not found tabling the issue could delay implementing a parking district.

“... I’m not 100 percent convinced that we will see a solution that will be acceptable,” but Councilman Ralph Fernandez said he was willing to hear the school’s solution.

Cook wished the school board luck: “It’s been a rough road for you, a rough road for us, we cannot pacify everybody.”

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