State fees force fine increase

Parking fines in Laguna are going up by $3 to offset the state's new fee on the citations starting Dec. 7.

This is the second time in two years that the city has increased its parking fines to cover state fee hikes, which will raise the state's take to $12.50 per citation. The changes to the local fine structure will still put Laguna below the average of affected cities selected by the city staff for comparison and the county and well below some of the cities.

"We try to be reasonable," City Manager Ken Frank said.

Fines almost across the board will be raised from $40 to $43 to compensate for the state increase that would have cost the city an annual $85,000 loss in revenue, absent the $3 tacked on the city fines by the council at the Nov. 16 meeting. San Clemente, which matched Laguna's pre-hike $40 fines for parking at an expired meter or by a red curb, has confirmed it will raise its fine by $3.

Laguna will still lag far behind Newport Beach and Santa Ana in those categories and with Laguna's reduction in fines for violations of posted no-parking signs, the city will be the average for that citation. Newport Beach charges $69 for parking in a posted no parking space. Santa Ana charges $65 and Huntington Beach fines violators $58.

The council reduced the fine for "obedience to posted signs/curb marking" from $63 to $43. The reduction does not apply to tow away spaces.

"Some no-parking signs are important, but some of them in North Laguna are for street sweeping and people have to get up and move their cars," Frank said. "We felt it was overcharging people."

The average fine charged by the comparison cities and the county for parking at an expired meters is $45 per cite. The average for red curb violations is $49.29 and the average for a posted "No parking" space is $49.86.

No changes were proposed for Laguna's $300 fines related to violations of handicap parking privileges and spaces.

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