Free parking in Del Mar Village will return for the second holiday season with the City Council granting six ticket-free weekends this year.
Starting the weekend of Nov. 21-22, parking will be free down Camino del Mar from Fourth to 15th streets, encouraging people to visit Del Mar and shop till they drop.
"I know it seems early, but we're trying to prepare Del Mar for the holiday season," Del Mar Village Association Director Jen Grove said last week as she lobbied the City Council for the gift of free parking. "The idea is to brighten up the holidays and bring the public in to see Del Mar Village is a place to spend their family time and holiday dollar."
The council was unanimous in granting the freebies: "Go forth and advertise," Mayor Crystal Crawford said.
Other complimentary parking weekends will be Nov. 28-29, Dec. 5-6, Dec. 12-13, Dec 19-20 and Dec. 24-25. One more free day will be offered on Jan. 1.
"It's a good move," Councilman Mark Filanc said. "It's a good positive step that encourages people to come."
Councilman Richard Earnest asked Grove what the response was last year with the inaugural free parking.
The media and merchants loved it and shoppers were much happier, she answered.
Grove said Del Mar has to compete with places such as University Towne Center mall and Flower Hill Promenade where shoppers can enjoy shopping and lunch without worrying about a time limit on their parking.
Without the time limits, more people will be able to shop and stay awhile in Del Mar, she said.
The council estimates that with the free parking, the city will lose about $5,000 in ticket revenue, it they will also save on personnel costs without parking enforcement on patrol.
To help ring in the season, the Del Mar Village Association will also deck the village with holiday lights, shooting stars and banners at no cost to the city.
For even more holiday cheer, DMVA will also have Santa visits and holiday performances at the plaza in addition to its Holiday Wonderland event on Dec. 6.
Starting Nov. 21, DMVA will kick off its dining voucher program — spend $75 or more in downtown Del Mar and receive a $15 dining voucher redeemable at participating Del Mar restaurants.