City plan lets neighborhood groups set parking meter rates - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

City plan lets neighborhood groups set parking meter rates

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego City Council Tuesday passed a plan that will allow community groups to recommend rates for parking meters, and possibly entice drivers to pay for curbside spaces more often.

The vote was 5-2 in favor of the plan, which sets a goal of having 85 percent of the metered spaces used by drivers. The current utilization rate is 37 percent, according to city staff.

Speakers noted that some blocks have free parking on one side of the street and metered parking on the other, with the no-cost side always full and the other empty of vehicles.

The plan envisions using high-tech meters with flexible pricing systems, so that an hour of street parking could range from 25 cents to $2.50, depending on the location and time of day.

City officials stressed several times that the goal of the plan is not to raise parking rates, which are now $1.25 for one hour at the 5,500 or so meters across the city. More than two-thirds of the meters are downtown, with the bulk of the remainder located north of downtown and in Hillcrest.

Community parking groups set policy at the grassroots level and can make recommendations to the mayor. The Uptown Community Group has disbanded, but is being resurrected.

"Every neighborhood is different, you want local control, not the bureaucracy setting those rates," Councilman Kevin Faulconer said.

The groups, mayor and City Council will also consider whether to extend the hours in which drivers will need to pay for curbside parking.

Meters are currently enforced Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with Sundays and holidays exempted. City officials will have the option of extending the hours until 11 p.m. and adding Sundays.

The city currently generates a gross of $7.4 million annually from parking meters, and the plan could gain nearly $1 million more.

Council members Sherri Lightner and Carl DeMaio cast the dissenting votes.

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