Letter: Parking Observation

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I recently moved to Laguna Beach from Fort Lauderdale and found Laguna Beach to be the ideal spot to live. I do not want to change or “improve” the city.  I would like to offer an observation that may help reach a consensus on how to address an issue that everyone agrees needs a solution.

Here are some facts about the parking situation that everyone seems to agree on:

There is not enough parking in the downtown area, particularly on weekends. Building a parking structure is expensive and depending on the assumptions used, may need taxpayer money. Tourism is subsidized by the taxpayers in the form of additional city services, (public safety, trash collection, etc.)

There are a lot of day visitors that do not spend their money in the higher-end shops and restaurants, but take up the parking spots that higher spending visitors would use.

Why not consider demand pricing for parking meters? At some price the supply of spaces will exactly equal the number of spaces available. Maybe the correct price during a weekday morning is $.50 an hour. Maybe the correct price during a weekend evening is $8 per hour.  Maybe during the day on the weekends it is $3 per hour.  This is not an untested, new idea.  San Francisco currently uses demand meters to regulate the demand for parking throughout the day.

If demand metering was implemented, it would:

Eliminate the need for a parking garage.

Reduce or eliminate the subsidy the taxpayer pays to attract tourists. The higher meter rates would pay for at least some of the cost of the extra services.

Higher spending visitors would not be discouraged from visiting because of lack of parking.  They would gladly pay a higher price to park to avoid the frustration of driving around looking for a non-existent space.

It may attract higher-end shops and restaurants knowing parking is not an issue for their customers.

It may also change the habits of the visitors to Laguna Beach. People who come just for the beach would be encouraged to carpool. Instead of staying until late in the afternoon, occupying space needed by the more expensive restaurants and galleries, they would leave a little earlier.

Laguna Beach is really a terrific little city. It would be great if we could find one less thing to argue about.

Gary Geller, Laguna Beach

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