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Costs rise for parking

Be prepared to fork over another 50 cents an hour to park in city lots if you don’t have a parking sticker.

The City Council voted 3-0 Tuesday to amend the municipal code to increase the rates in city owned parking lots from $1.50 to $2 an hour. The proposed amendment will go into effect on June 1 if the council approves it at the required second reading.

“Laguna’s Chamber of Commerce is not usually in favor of raising costs for tourists, but we will support this with some conditions,” said former city Community Services Director Pat Barry on behalf of the chamber.

Barry listed several conditions, including using proceeds from the increase to wash downtown sidewalks more frequently, increasing police presence in the business district and upgrading street meters to ones that accept credit cards.

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“It is obvious that the additional revenue raised by increasing the parking fees in city owned parking lots will not fund all of these suggestions; rather it is the city council and staff’s job to determine which of any of these ideas is most beneficial and would have the greatest impact,” Barry said.

South Laguna resident Tracy Klug said the proceeds should be used to build sidewalks and to increase trolley service, particularly on the weekends.

The additional revenue, estimated at $200,000 a year, will go into the city’s parking fund, which has been dipped into in the past for other uses.

“Recently, we have gone back to the policy of parking fees going into more parking,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Schneider said

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Council members Kelly Boyd and Cheryl Kinsman recused themselves on the advice of counsel. Kinsman owns property near one of the lots. Boyd owns a business across the street for two lots.

Before being advised to recuse, Boyd said he was surprised at the chamber support for the increase, but he agreed that a police officer on foot patrol is needed, as is more frequent sidewalk washing.

“The sidewalks are filthy,” he said. “Five times a year is a joke. They are dirty three days after they are washed.”

Boyd and Kinsman both supported hiking the cost of metered parking near city beaches before leaving the dais.

City officials are monitoring multi-space street meter installations in Oakland to determine if Laguna should try them again. If the Oakland experiment appears to be working, staff will recommend a trial program on Cliff Drive adjacent to Heisler Park, to be discussed at budget hearings.


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