Parking rates increased along San Diego waterfront to spur turnover

SAN DIEGO - The Port of San Diego Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved the expansion of a pilot program that changed parking meter rates and hours at Tuna Harbor Park.

The program will be implemented at public parking lots in the North Embarcadero and Ruocco Park next month, following a unanimous vote by the commissioners.

Rates were hiked for parking meters at Tuna Harbor Park three months ago in response to port tenant and resident comments regarding low vehicle turnover. In essence, vehicles were being parked at the meters for lengths of time that were considered excessive.

Port tenants, like restaurants and shops, depend on customers coming and going in order to turn a profit.

A report from port staff said the problem shifted from Tuna Harbor to nearby Ruocco Park, causing crowded lots and low turnover of vehicles. The opening of the waterfront park at the County Administration Center has had the same impact at nearby bayside lots, according to the report.

Michaela Bateman told 10News that she had difficulty finding a parking space.

"We drove around for an hour and a half looking for a spot," she said. "We couldn't find one. Don't know if we were unlucky, but..."

Sharon Cloward, the president of the San Diego Port Tenants' Association told 10News, "It's a parking nightmare. Everybody thought when the county park opened people would take public transportation and it just hasn't been the case."

Hourly rates are currently $1 at Ruocco Park and $1.25 along the North Embarcadero. The cost of parking will rise to $1.75 an hour at both locations.

The port will also begin enforcing the meters on Sundays and shift the enforcement hours from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. to 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Staff estimates the port will gain more than $250,000 over the first year of the change.

A study on the impact of the changes at Tuna Harbor Park was due by December. The staff report says that timeline could be pushed back in order to collect more data.

The commissioners also approved a hike in fines for parking regulation violations by $5 and late-payment fees by $10. A staff report said the fine structure has been largely untouched for 20 years and the increases will bring it more into line with nearby jurisdictions.

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