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Taking initiative to get things done

(This article was originally published HERE in SDGLN media partner San Diego Uptown News.)

Residents of Vermont Street just south of University Avenue in Hillcrest are singing a happier tune this week, after one of their neighbors recently took the steps to address a longstanding parking issue in the area.

Roy Dahl, an operations research analyst by trade and homeowner on the 3700 block of Vermont Street, recently spent eight years on the Uptown Planners board. When some parking spots on his street went from parallel to angled, and then back to parallel in the last year, he decided to find out why.

The west side of Vermont Street is wider than the east side, offering room to accommodate alternatives. “I understood the value of public parking,” he said.

Though his original focus was that 3800 block between University Avenue and Essex Street, after working with Councilmember Todd Gloria’s office and being presented with additional information on the value of adding spaces to the adjoining blocks along Vermont Street between Essex and Robinson streets, and Robinson and Pennsylvania streets, Dahl said he decided to take on the entire effort.

The master plan entailed identifying a segment of the available parking along each of the three blocks in question, and converting those to angled parking, thereby adding a total of eight additional spaces to the area.

The city’s ensuing task amounted to three separate petitions containing signatures that would equal 75 percent of residents affected, one for each block involved. For the next four weeks and with the help of his partner of 28 years, Bill Sutton, Dahl set about gathering signatures by approaching his neighbors organically on the street instead of knocking on their doors.

While Dahl said he met some opposition to the plan overall, his reasoning was quite convincing and he exceeded the number of signatures required, obtaining 28 signatures. He submitted the completed petitions to the city in April of this year.

By June the matter went before the Uptown Planners but was quickly tabled when clarification regarding who was allowed to sign the petitions arose. Once this was resolved, Dahl said, the petitions were then passed to the Uptown Community Parking District.

“After receiving funding from the [Parking District], most of the spaces were added several weeks ago,” he said, adding that the final section was scheduled to be complete Tuesday, Nov. 20.

The end result means that 12 parallel spaces became 19 angle-parking spaces, including one new accessible parking space, spread out over three neighborhood blocks.

“I want to thank Ben Verdugo of the Uptown Community Parking District for helping me deal with both the city and Uptown Planners,” Dahl said. Verdugo is the Parking District Operations Manager.

Previous longtime resident Katie Wooley lived directly across from the area Dahl was originally concerned with, and was happy to hear of his efforts.

“The switch back to parallel parking took away parking spaces for visitors and consumers who want to spend money and enjoy Hillcrest,” she said. “Parking is super hard to find there, so I’m glad they brought back the angled parking.” Wooley moved to North Park earlier this year.

“Roy is a one-man activist,” said Benjamin Nicholls, executive director of the Hillcrest Business Association, praising Dahl. “Some people talk about things that need to be done. Roy gets things done.”

Dahl’s own involvement with the Uptown Planners began after he navigated the permit process for upgrades to his Hillcrest home. “I was on the board until this year when I reached the maximum of eight years, and was not able to run again,” he said, adding that he hopes to run again once the time is right.

In the meantime, he said he is happy with the results on Vermont Street. “Angled parking helps everyone,” he said.

Morgan M. Hurley is Contributing Editor of SDGLN, Editor of San Diego Downtown News and Assistant Editor of Gay San Diego and San Diego Uptown News.