Much to the liking of nearby business owners, a parking lot adjacent to the downtown train station should be preserved, according to recommendations made Thursday night in light of plans to convert the station into a Centennial Plaza.
The Traffic, Safety and Parking Commission voted 3-1 Thursday night to advise the City Council to keep Parking Lot V and its 19 spaces in front of the train station intact. The planned plaza would host farmers markets, musical performances and other civic events.
The City Council may review the proposal at its next meeting Aug. 20.
Opposition to the conversion stems from a study by Wilbur Smith Associates, a traffic consulting firm. Its report concluded that downtown lacked 365 parking spaces to support the business district and that a plaza would lead to an estimated $25,000 in lost meter revenue.
Menassa Abinader, manager of Mijana, a Middle-Eastern restaurant on the corner of California Drive and Burlingame Avenue, said the spaces are needed for evening commerce.
“I am concerned about the fact that at night there is no parking right now,” he said. “On Saturday night, we need those spaces.”
Mike Harvey of the Honda dealership is also opposed to the plan. He said the plan would hurt commerce and create unwanted traffic along the back end of his business on Carolan Avenue.
Supporters of the plaza plan say the parking lot is expendable because it is underutilized and ugly. Ideas for the plaza range from installing a centennial clock or a gazebo to building solar powered streetlamps or a water fountain and providing Wi-Fi access.
The plaza proposal is expected to cost approximately $200,000 and would be funded through private donations, according to Randy Schwartz, Parks and Recreation director.
A compromise also has been talked about in terms of having the lot play dual roles as a place for parking and a plaza at designated times.
The Traffic, Safety and Parking Commission delayed a decision on the parking lot last month, with some commissioners suggesting the plaza should be placed somewhere else.
Mayor Terry Nagel, who sits on the city’s Executive Centennial Committee, affirmed Thursday that other locations for a plaza will not be considered. She said the fate of the parking lot will decide how large it will be.
“The scope of it and when it will be built is still an open question,” she said.