DEL MAR — The third time was the charm in determining the price of a single parking space in Del Mar.
Five years after the adoption of a program that allows business owners to pay for rather than provide up to half of their required parking spaces, council members established a fee at the July 15 meeting of $30,000 per space.
Parking has long been considered a problem in the beachside city, although some say there isn’t a lack of spaces, just a shortage of them in the north end of town, where most restaurants and retail shops are located.
Property owners say parking requirements are a deterrent when it comes to improving or expanding existing businesses.
Whenever new development proposals are presented, providing adequate parking always tops the list of concerns, city staff said.
The in-lieu program was adopted as one means to address those concerns and encourage redevelopment.
Any new development or the redevelopment of more than 50 percent of an existing business in the commercial zone will be required to pay the full amount for each space before a permit is granted.
Properties owners planning minor expansions or a change of use can take advantage of an annual payment plan of $1,000 per year for each stall for the length of time they participate in the in-lieu program.
Council members had discussed the fee twice before, most recently during the July 1 meeting. They asked staff to return with additional information, including how the fee would relate to the parking management plan.
According to the staff report, setting the in-lieu fee schedule moves forward a program that is already in place. It is one tool in the plan that provides funding to help build or lease space for additional public parking.
Council members also wanted clarification on how the money would be used. All funds collected must be deposited in a designated account that can only be used to acquire, develop, operate or maintain off-street parking spaces for use by the general public.
Money can also be used to develop and operate a year-round shuttle system to transport people to and from off-street parking spaces available for use by the general public along Camino del Mar through the village and to Powerhouse and Seagrove parks at the foot of 15th Street.
Options for those off-street spaces include restriping the existing City Hall lot to gain additional stalls, leasing property for a lot or contributing funds in a private/public partnership with a new developer.
Money collected could be leveraged for minor projects, such as supplementing capital improvement parking projects, or for major efforts, including installment payments for construction bonds or loans.
Planning Director Kathy Garcia told council members employee parking, which is also a concern, is being addressed.
Once the city collects fees for 50 in-lieu spaces it must begin to provide those stalls. Currently, off-street public parking is available at City Hall, under the Inn at L’Auberge and at the Shores property.
Council opted to designate City Hall as the location for public parking.
“It’s a little bit of crystal-ball gazing because we don’t know how much will be collected, how many businesses will take advantage of this and how many would pay the full fee up front because of new construction,” Councilman Don Mosier said. “But I think the fee itself … is the right number.
“The determination of this fee has been put off for five years,” he added. “It’s time to decide that this is either the right number or we want to think about it some more. I think it’s time to move.”
Staff will next prepare an application, covenant requirements, administrative procedures and an application fee. The progress of the program will be reported annually to council members.