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Enough Town Center Parking at Peak Hours?

City Council debates whether parking is adequate at the heart of Aliso Viejo's business center. Other improvements suggested.

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.

Mike January 18, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Plans look awesome, if they ever follow through with the whole plan, the whole neighborhood would benefit. That's a big IF.
Johnny Utah January 18, 2013 at 04:14 AM
They don't have kettle corn at growers direct and besides their prices are still high and it leaves a question on where the produce actually does come from.
AVResident2 January 18, 2013 at 06:38 AM
As things stand, Town Center is not at all pedestrian friendly. We’re in our cars all day and we need a central market-type gathering place to leisurely stroll without fear of being run over by a SUV. I would like to see a shuttle with a little bit of character, like a trolley; something to add more warmth and character to the city, if even in a small way. I also like the idea of increased outdoor seating and gathering spots. It would be wonderful to do away some of the existing parking spaces in order to create a plaza with plenty of small tables, park benches and trees. It would be great to have such a place where people could sit, read, chat, people watch or just relax and soak up the sun. I agree too, that Town Center’s architecture does need to be changed from the bland, utilitarian and totally uninspired to something more interesting; maybe, and I know this is wishful thinking, to stone facades with old-fashioned iron store signs in front of each establishment. Finally, I second the other ideas of public art, a farmer’s market and a dog park. Let’s get rolling.
Mike January 21, 2013 at 09:23 PM
Sounds like Disneyland.
Kathleen K January 22, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Phil Tsunoda abstains from the vote in protest? Wasn't he elected to his position to take a position and stick to it? Hiding behind an abstention is chicken-politics at its worst!

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