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City to raise some parking rates this summer

Trial program will boost hourly meter costs to $2 in certain areas beginning in July.

January 23, 2014|By Bryce Alderton

The Laguna Beach City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to raise certain parking rates this summer as part of a trial program.

The city will increase on- and off-street meter rates to $2 per hour on summer weekends, holidays and after 5 p.m. on weekdays on Forest Avenue, Ocean Avenue, Broadway and Coast Highway (between Cliff Drive and Legion Street), the staff report said.

It currently costs $1.25 per hour to park at the meters, but deputy city manager Ben Siegel pointed out that the rate was already scheduled to jump 25 cents to $1.50 beginning July 1 as part of a separate council action on the Village Entrance financing plan last year.

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The reason for the trial rate increase is to align pricing with demand and encourage use of off-street peripheral parking, according to the staff report.

As part of this summer's trial program, which Siegel said will begin in July and run through Labor Day, daily parking rates at the Forest Avenue and Lumberyard lots will increase to $15 on weekends, holidays and weekends after 5 p.m. Rates would remain at $10 per day at all other times.

Motorists will have to pay for public parking until 9 p.m. this summer, a two-hour increase from the current 7 p.m. cutoff.

The two-hour increase factors in peak demand during those times due to the summer festivals.

RBF Consulting gathered data in August, which helped staff develop eight recommendations that were approved on Tuesday. They also used input from several stakeholder meetings held during the last two years.

RBF found that parking is often 100% occupied on summer weekdays beginning in late afternoon and on weekends in the early afternoon, the city staff report said.

The city will also look into partnering with a private valet company to offer that service and improve signage and branding to encourage and educate drivers to use off-street city parking lots, such as at the Susi Q Community Center and Hagan Place, the report said.

Another opportunity could be partnering with Visit Laguna Beach to offer a mobile phone app that would include parking information, Siegel told the council.

The new rates would not affect residents with shoppers' permits, according to Siegel.

The permits, which residents purchase, allow them to park at city meters — except on Laguna Canyon Road — or lots.

Councilwoman Toni Iseman was concerned about raising parking rates too much.

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