All about the parking in La Mesa

Revenue and costs discussed at council meeting

This past June, the approximately 485 parking meters in downtown La Mesa generated $25,958; parking citations for meter infractions brought in another $6630, according to a report presented at the September 24 La Mesa City Council meeting.

Community development director William Chopyk reported on fourth-quarter parking revenue for fiscal year 2012–2013 during his presentation on the Downtown Parking Fund. The fund contains parking-related revenue, which is spent downtown on parking management and enforcement and projects approved by the council.

Last April, people paid $24,030 for metered parking and $4885 for parking tickets, according to Chopyk's report. In May, parking meters generated $25,467, and the city collected $6054 for citations.

La Mesa sells quarterly permits that are priced based on the location of the long-term parking, according to city manager David Witt. Permit sales totaled $3700 in April, $227 in May, and $6735 in June.

Chopyk said that monthly parking revenue totaled an average of  $35,000. "We are generating a pretty healthy revenue," he said. About half of the revenue is spent on operating expenses.

Chopyk also reported on parking-fund expenditures since 2007. Spending included $86,330 for the first phase of "smart" parking meters. In October 2010, the city installed 102 smart meters on La Mesa Boulevard, from Fourth Street to Acacia Avenue. The meters accept cash and debit or credit cards.

A sensor resets the meter when the driver leaves the space, which led to a discussion about what happens when time remains on the meter. Councilwoman Ruth Sterling said that when a person leaves a space with 20 minutes left on the smart meter, "the guy behind you can't benefit."

Business owner Bill Jaynes said, "Charging people for time they don't receive is unconscionable."

Councilman Ernie Ewin said a person "makes a choice to feed or card [a specific amount] into a meter."

Mayor Art Madrid called for an end to "philosophizing," but he also spoke about "professional poachers" who "wait to see who leaves and drive" into spaces with coin-only meters.

The council receives recommendations for downtown improvements from the La Mesa Community Parking Commission. The volunteer panel's recommendations approved by the council included $3290 for power-washing before the 2012 Flag Day parade, Chopyk said.

"There were some other things included…to really spruce up the Village for [La Mesa's centennial] year."

Spending also included: $300,000 for the Downtown Village Streetscape Improvement Project, $25,000 for new lighting in the La Mesa Boulevard municipal lot, $23,000 for new trash and recycling containers throughout the downtown parking district, $20,000 for new meters on La Mesa Boulevard west of Acacia, and $2000 for new safety railing on the southwest corner of La Mesa Boulevard and Date Avenue.

And, expenditures for professional services included $43,000 for a parking structure feasibility analysis.

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