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Del Mar embracing paid on-street parking

By Jim Kerr

The parking debate just to the north in the small beach city of Del Mar has taken a distinctly different tack from the debate in La Jolla.

Del Mar has had some paid parking for upwards of a decade and is now debating its expansion. While continuing to examine an overall plan to expand pay parking throughout the city, the Del Mar City Council has expressed support for installation of additional “park, pay and display” machines along a four-block area in the northern section of the city.

After a required public hearing, approval for a North Beach expansion could come as soon as this month with installation of the machines accomplished by the start of the busy summer season.

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In presenting the proposal at the council’s April 21 regular meeting, Community Services Director Pat Vergne touted additional pay parking at North Beach - and other areas of the city - as a way to support an ever-growing need for funding visitor-related city services.

“Given the city’s limited revenue base and increased demands for beach-related public services, the expansion of the pay and display parking area in the North Beach represents sound fiscal policy,” he said. “It allows beach visitors to contribute towards these public services.”

With an estimated 2 million annual visitors to Del Mar beaches putting an increasing strain on city coffers, the idea of those visitors helping to foot the bill for beach services has been a topic among both residents and city officials for several years. Lately there has been growing support for an expansion of paid parking.

For 12 years, the park, pay and display machines have been in use in North Beach near “Dog Beach.” The same machines have also been in use for four years along a bluff-top section of Camino del Mar in the southern-most portion of the city.

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Technology has improved, and at their meeting the Council received a demonstration from the firm Parkeon concerning “Smart Card” technology in which credit, debit or prepaid cards