Motorists seem OK with parking increases

OCEANSIDE — Oceanside finished its first summer season with increased public parking lot and city meter rates, and heard minimal objections.

Kiel Koger, city public works director, said there has not been much feedback on changed parking rates.

“The new rates are in line with the average for other coastal cities in San Diego and Orange Counties,” Koger said.

New city parking rates vary by beach proximity and time of year.

Pay parking lots that formerly charged $2 an hour, now cost $3 to $4 an hour. Rates for all-day lot parking range from $8 to $10 and $15, depending on lot location and time of year. Higher rates are in effect from mid-May to mid-September.

Meter rates increased from $1 an hour to $1.50 an hour year-round.

A convenience for drivers is pay parking lots and meters in high-use areas are credit card accessible. This saves drivers from having to come up with exact payment in lot dollars or meter pocket change.

Another option is free parking a few blocks inland from the coast. The city boasts two free multilevel parking structures. One is located at the Oceanside Civic Center, on Civic Center Drive and North Ditmar Street. The other is adjacent to the transit center, on Seagaze Drive and South Cleveland Street.

“There is no free parking directly on the beach in the downtown area, but there is ample free parking or very inexpensive parking within a couple of blocks,” Koger said.

The exception to “no free beach parking” is Buccaneer Beach, which still offers free parking at the beachside park parking lot.

Finding parking in the central downtown area requires some familiarity with the area. Construction projects have closed longtime parking locations and opened new ones.

The first parking lot closures came in fall 2012 with the build of Springhill Suites on Mission Avenue and Myers Street.

In the summer of 2015 two more parking lots on and around Mission Avenue closed for construction of Pierside North and a needed staging area. This change drew a lot of public comments. Many residents were accustomed to free parking in the temporary lots, which were never meant to be permanent free parking.

An additional lot on Pierview Way and Cleveland Street closed in fall 2016 for construction of the North Beach Promenade, which will eventually provide 300-plus public parking spots when completed.

The next lot closure was in early 2017 to create a construction staging area. In the future two more lots on Myers Street, which currently provide temporary downtown parking, will also close.

The city works with MainStreet Oceanside to keep locals and tourists updated on what lots are open, as additional downtown construction continues to break ground.

“Additional parking lots will go away in the future, but the city will eventually gain approximately 1,200 new public parking spaces long-term after all new developments are constructed,” Koger said.

The city approved parking increases in April, and OK’d a needed Coastal Permit to allow changes Sept. 20. The delay between the two approvals was due to misinterpretation on whether a permit was needed. City staff said the city was told in June discussions with the Coastal Commission a permit was not required. Later the commission clarified one is necessary.

The new parking fees will provide the city with an annual revenue increase of about $898,000. The city will put the money toward meter upgrades, future downtown parking, beach restroom maintenance and pier improvements. Public parking lot rates were last raised in 2011. City meters last saw an increase in 2010.

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