Del Mar may charge $15 a day for beach parking

Posted at 5:39 PM, Oct 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-27 20:39:50-04

DEL MAR, Calif. - Families who have to drive to the picturesque beaches in Del Mar could soon be paying more to park.

The city is asking the Coastal Commission for permission to charge up to $15 per day to park at its beaches -- starting at $3 per hour.

Michelle Shaha drove all the way from Escondido to Del Mar's Dog Beach on Thursday because it's one of her dog Hurley's favorite places.

"She loves it here; the air, it's beautiful," Shaha said.

While walking onto the beach is free, parking is another story. Shaha paid $6 for two hours at Dog Beach. Now, the city wants to extend that hourly rate to hundreds of spots around its beaches, many of them new. It also wants to enforce parking daily between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.

"I wouldn't want to pay more, I can say that," Shaha said.

Del Mar, with 4,000 residents, is San Diego County's smallest city, and city officials say it has to charge for parking because the city doesn't get enough tax revenue from its residents and businesses to support all of the services and infrastructure projects for its two million-plus annual visitors to the San Diego County Fair, Del Mar horse races and the beaches.

"I don't think it's a problem whatsoever," said Joyce Fox, who also paid to park at Dog Beach on Thursday. "I can see why they'd have to have the upkeep on the Dog Beach and I wish they had dog beaches where we lived, so I think it's a wonderful thing."

The Coastal Commission will weigh the proposal next week. Some of its officials have expressed concerns that the high prices could be too much for families to afford.

Shaha said if parking prices get too high, she and Hurley may simply go somewhere else. After all, beach parking is free in the surrounding communities of Solana Beach and La Jolla.

However, that would disappoint Shaha's nearly one-year-old canine, since those areas don't have Dog Beach.

"She's not much of a fetcher, bringing back the ball," Shaha said. "But she loves to run in the water."