Boaters unhappy with fees attached to purchase of San Vicente Reservoir permits

Posted at 5:25 PM, Sep 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-13 20:25:41-04

SAN DIEGO - The San Vicente Reservoir will finally reopen after eight years, but boaters who need to buy a permit are not happy with the new permitting process.

The reservoir closed in 2008 while the dam was raised to increase water capacity. It will reopen for recreational purposes Sept. 22.

"We've been waiting for it to open since it closed in 2008," said Scripps Ranch resident Joanne Hamilton, whose family owns a fishing boat.

However, Hamilton contacted 10News after purchasing her first $7 permit for their boat. The new permitting process by the city of San Diego, which operates the recreational facilities, is now selling the permits online through Ticketmaster. Unfortunately, the Ticketmaster surcharges and fees turn the $7 permit into a $19.25 purchase.

"Got to the payment process and realized that my $7 ticket suddenly was a lot more than $7," complained Hamilton. "None of this money is going for conservation. It's not going for jobs in San Diego. It's just going for fees."

"I liked it the way it was where you just bought your tickets at the lake," Hamilton added. "If you got there early enough, you got on the lake, and if you didn't … maybe you waited until people got off."

The city of San Diego Public Utilities Department sent 10News this statement explaining the permitting process:

"The use of Ticketmaster was required to ensure all customers had a fair and equal opportunity to purchase permits online. The City is not staffed and does not have the required phone service and processes to handle the very high demand of phone calls, if we were to try and sell and distribute the permits ourselves. Most importantly, using Ticketmaster will help to ensure that only those with pre-purchased permits will show up to the reservoir on their designated day. Otherwise, customers showing up each day to buy permits at the reservoir would cause traffic and crowd control issues, and traffic would definitely back up onto County roads and create a traffic/safety hazard and nuisance to the surrounding community. We do not have enough queue space to handle that type of scenario due to the anticipated very high demand. We anticipate using Ticketmaster until demand drops to a level that can be handled by City staff and which does not create traffic impacts to the surrounding community."

"They're charging $4 to mail a piece of paper," said Hamilton.

10News contacted Ticketmaster for comment on the fees, but they did not offer a comment as of early Tuesday evening.