Hoping to draw more shoppers into the city, the City Council agreed this week to shrink parking spaces in commercial and retail centers.
The ordinance reduces the minimum size for a standard parking space by six inches, a move applauded by commercial property owners in the city.
“My feeling is that it would enhance shopping in Lake Forest,” said Ray Gelgur, owner of the Civic Center Plaza, a retail/commercial plaza where City Hall is located. “It would make more space available, which is particularly good when you have a crowded center.”
The width of a standard size lot could be reduced from nine feet to 8 1/2 feet under the proposed law. Only 30% of a shopping center’s parking spaces could be reduced to 8 1/2 feet.
However, compact car spaces would not be affected by the proposed ordinance.
“My concern is that the space would be sufficient for vans and large vehicles, that there would be enough room to open doors without dinging other cars all the time,” said Councilwoman Ann Van Haun.
“It’s certainly to the city’s advantage for there to be as many parking spaces as possible,” Van Haun said before the Tuesday meeting. “Many citizens (who) grumble about not finding enough room to park . . . might shop some place other than Lake Forest.”
Approval of the new law would mean about 20 extra vehicles could park in the 368-space Civic Center Plaza.
Gelgur asked the council to allow that 50% of all standard spaces be reduced in size. However, council members followed the advice of the city Planning Commission, which said the city should start with 30%.
“The Planning Commission felt it would be more prudent to recommend a small step rather than the full 50%,” said Kathy Graham, city community development director.
In South County, only San Clemente and Laguna Beach allow standard space widths of less than nine feet, the county standard. About half of the 115 California cities surveyed by Lake Forest city staff allow smaller standard spaces.