Del Mar City Council establishes in-lieu parking fee


By Kristina Houck

Five years after Del Mar’s in-lieu parking fee program was approved, downtown property owners can finally pay a fee instead of providing some of their required onsite parking spaces.

The Del Mar City Council on July 16 established a fee for the program, which permits owners to waive some of their onsite parking requirements by paying into a fund for off-street parking projects in the central commercial zone. A council that included none of the current members approved the program in 2008, but the fee was never established.

“The determination of this fee has been put off for five years,” said Councilman Don Mosier. “It’s time to decide that this is either the right number or we want to think about it some more, but I think it’s time to move this on.”

The full fee of $30,000 per stall is required up front for new projects or major remodels, but existing owners who want to expand or change their business use are allowed to make $1,000 annual payments, or $2.74 per day per stall.

“This is because those types of businesses have already developed their property and they can’t tear down their property and build an extra space in the garage or tuck-under parking, whereas with a new construction, they could design it to include the parking onsite,” said Kathleen Garcia, the city’s planning and community development director.

Based on construction costs for a parking structure and land values, staff recommended setting the fee at $30,000 per stall at the July 1 meeting, but council members directed staff to return with more information about how the program’s revenue will be used.

Depending on how much money the program brings in, potential projects include restriping the existing City Hall lot to gain additional stalls, leasing properties to provide additional public parking, constructing a parking garage and developing a shuttle system. Under the ordinance, if business owners commit to 50 in-lieu spaces, the city must implement a shuttle.

A couple of property owners have expressed interest in the program, but no applications have been submitted because they didn’t know how much money they would have to pay, Garcia noted on July 1.

“It’s a little bit of crystal ball gazing because we don’t know how many businesses will take advantage of this and how many will pay the full fee up front with construction,” Mosier said.

Before the unanimous vote, Mayor Terry Sinnott asked staff to periodically return to report about the progress of the program.