The Port of San Diego on Thursday (August 4) unveiled plans to increase the cost of parking at a handful of locations under Port control.
4077 N. Harbor Drive, Downtown San Diego
The proposal, outlined at a sparsely attended public outreach forum, includes installation of 48 new parking meters at currently free spots along the northeastern edge of San Diego Bay, and installation of permit-dispensing machines that would require visitors to Spanish Landing Park between Harbor Island and the airport to pay for parking. Rates would also be bumped on existing meters near Shelter Island, with free parking ending on Sundays through a shift to seven-day meter enforcement.
"One of the things that we notice is that even though these spots are posted as two-hour parking, people are willing to risk a citation, park all day and all night, even stay for days," said Krisitne Love, presenting on behalf of the port and explaining one of the reasons they believe it's necessary to expand the pay-to-park program. "So then we don't have community access to the bay, we're not turning over the spots. Even at 8 a.m., these lots are fully parked and, despite the two hour signs, many of these cars stay all day."
Love said that while Port workers do monitor vehicles, marking tires and issuing citations to those caught ignoring the existing rules, they'll wait up to three days to tow vehicles left in the lots.
"I actually went over at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning and every spot was parked. What we believe is that employees from the airport are parking there, risking a ticket, and figuring it's probably cheaper to get a ticket once in a while than pay for monthly parking," Love continued.
"You'll come in, all the spots will be taken, and there's not a single child or family playing in the park. That's why we need the pay stations."
The Port has used the assertion that overwhelming demand for parking necessitated additional fees before, with a pilot meter rate hike tested in Tuna Harbor before being expanded to other spots.
Midweek observation of the Tuna Harbor site at the time didn't seem to support the claim of continuous overwhelming demand. Likewise, a visit to Spanish Landing around 5 p.m., immediately after the meeting concluded, turned up a park that was indeed quiet but accompanied by a half-empty parking lot.
Meanwhile, the plan to increase parking costs on Shelter Island from $1.00 to $1.25 hourly was met with active resistance, despite explanations from Love that the hike would not only represent the first rate increase in 20 years, but it would bring Port meters in line with those owned by the city located nearby. Ann Kinner, owner of Seabreeze Books and Charts, still voiced opposition to any measures that would increase costs for customers of local businesses while also insisting that parking access was not a problem that needed a fee hike solution.
"The empty metered lot at the corner of Anchorage won't generate any greater revenue if rates go up. Zero times a buck is the same as zero times a buck and a quarter."