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June 2009 home page

Visitors' Fair Share
Bettina Experton, Tewa
Photos Art Olson

Parking in Downtown Del Mar comes with challenges and a high price – from repeatedly circling around town in search of the elusive parking space, to finally being penalized with an unfair fine for barely going over an ever-changing time limit while rushing your lunch hour. Residents and visitors need relief with an effective parking solution. Del Mar citizens serving on the City Finance Committee worked on such a solution over two years ago. Now is the time for implementation.

The proposed parking plan for Downtown will also restore the City’s financial health in this challenging economic environment by generating an additional $1 million in net annual revenue. Current parking revenue, totaling $1 million gross, is today the third largest revenue source for the City, on par with the dangerously declining sales tax. However, more than two-thirds of parking revenue is generated by fines: an unfair way to pay for parking and in big part responsible for our City’s “bad” parking reputation. Besides its unfairness, our current paid and time-limited parking system is also insufficient to cover our costs to serve over 2 million visitors a year. With over $2 million expended in lifeguard, beach and park maintenance, on a per resident basis Del Martians pay in excess of 800 times the price paid by Del Mar visitors who come to our beaches.

The proposed and immediately implementable parking solution: a flexible Pay and Display parking system Downtown along with voluntary parking permits. These systems are successfully used everywhere: from large and appealing urban centers like Georgetown and Seattle, to pretty small towns the size of Del Mar all over Europe. They can aesthetically integrate into our revitalized Downtown and a new streetscape without ugly meters or posting signs with various parking time limits. Park as long as you wish, where you want, and without fines.

The additionally proposed annual parking permits, available on a volunteer basis, will also give residents and visitors alike the additional convenience to park at either metered or time-limited spaces, without having to take the time to pay every time they park Downtown or at the beach. Where parking time is limited, these permits will also give us the bonus to park twice as long as permitted!

This new proposed parking plan comes with all gains and no pain, and is also the way to put our fiscal and community’s future in our own hands.


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