HUNTINGTON BEACH : Beach Parking Fees Frozen After Drop

The city's beach parking revenue declined by almost 10% this year, prompting officials to back away from a plan to raise fees for the coming year.

City officials are worried that revenues might drop even more sharply than in the last year if the fees are boosted for 1992.

"With the economy the way it is, we've got to try to do things to make it easy for people to visit the beach, and raising parking fees certainly makes it more difficult," said Ron Hagan, the city's community services director.

The charge for annual beach parking passes had been scheduled to climb by $10. Instead, Hagan is recommending that passes remain at $50 for city residents and $70 for non-residents. The City Council is expected to take up the matter next month, and several officials said they expect the fees to remain at current levels.

The city's revenue from beach parking--including daily fees, annual passes, camping charges and metered spaces--fell to $1.1 million this year, about $100,000 less than collected during 1990, Hagan said.

He attributed the decrease to the sagging economy, an unusually cool summer, a lack of facilities for beach-goers, the closure of the Municipal Pier while it is being rebuilt, and planned improvements of beach restrooms, showers and snack stands that have not yet begun.

With those projects scheduled for completion in 1992, city officials are hoping that beach attendance--and parking fees--will swell.

The planned increase in yearly pass charges was included in a package of user fee increases approved by the city in March in a bid to raise money to offset the city's cost for providing services. The boost was to have begun Wednesday, but Hagan said fees will remain at current levels until the City Council acts.

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