Can you always find a parking spot at Town Center?
A city consultant said parking is fine during peak hours at the city's biggest business hub, counting 443 excess spaces.
But the figure was disputed by three city councilmen.
"Somehow that surplus (of parking) seems to elude me," Councilman Ross Chun said.
In protest of the parking claim, one councilman abstained from a vote directing staff to proceed with a Specific Plan for the center. That vote was approved.
Councilman Bill Phillips supported the consultant's parking analysis. It's not a matter of whether the parking exists, but where, Phillips said.
"There is excess parking," Phillips said. "I’m not asking anyone to hop on a bus. I’m saying if you park at Staples you can walk to the movie theater. It’s very doable."
Currently, 82 businesses operate out of Town Center. Of those, 40 percent provide food. A consultant called for more food and beverage options for the center's shoppers.
Here are some more recommendations for future improvements:
- 120,000 additional square feet of retail space
- a dog park near PetSmart
- more chairs and community gathering points
- offsite parking and a shuttle
- upgrades to architecture and landscaping
- a new festival plaza that could accommodate a farmers market
The goal of all these improvements is to protect the bottom line, said Albert Armijo, director of planning services.
"We want, first and foremost, to improve the financial situation for tenants, property owners and the city," he said.
Armijo said the center is doing fine but could improve. He said it's hard to find medium- and big-box retailers in this economy to fill empty spots, but that could change.
Other problems the center faces are "misshaped" parcels, described by Armijo as "fingers, tentacles extending throughout the center."
Signs could be more attractive, Armijo said, and traffic chokepoints around the center's various entryways could be improved.
Another Town Center weakness is that it "doesn’t have a common sense of place or unifying aesthetic at this time," he said.