City looks to the beaches to save its ass with paid parking and corporate advertising.

by on December 14, 2010 · 7 comments

in Economy, Environment, Ocean Beach, San Diego

In last Sunday’s (12-12-10) San Diego U-T, there was a disturbing “in-depth” article about how the City of San Diego, while consistently rejecting tax increases, is missing out on certain revenue streams.  And it appears that the city is looking at the beaches to fill its coffers, among other sources.

Here’s how reporter Craig Gustafson put it:

… the City Council could begin charging for public parking near beaches, assess a fee for emergency police and fire responses or allow advertising on city property as ways to raise revenue. [Our emphasis.]

In a break-down box separate from the main article, there’s this:

Beach parking: San Diego doesn’t charge for parking at the 63 city-owned lots near its beaches as many other cities do. The nearly 9,000 spaces could provide significant revenue depending on how much the city charges. The City Council has authority over public parking fees.

So, here comes the push for paid parking at the beaches, and this would obviously have drastic effects on Ocean Beach.

Paid parking at the beach was brought up recently at a mid-November meeting of the OB Planning Board (and our Dan Morales covered it – go here for his report and the great subsequent comments).  City planners raised issues of parking structures and other parking “devices”.

And it’s not like OB residents and merchants are complaining about the lack of parking. Newport Avenue merchants do not want a 2-3 story parking structure, and residents would rather the City focus more on mass transit than on the issue of additional parking at the beach.

But it’s clear now that the City could care less about what the community wants in regards to parking. The City of San Diego needs money. And even though reporter Gustafson acknowledged there are other sources of income for the City (like utility taxes, increased business taxes, hotel taxes, stormwater charges, trash collection fees), the City is licking its chops at the thought of installing meters or other paid parking drop-boxes at the beach.  Gustafson claims that San Diego – “unlike many other cities” – doesn’t charge for parking at City lots near the ocean. ( “… many other cities”? – Really? Just how many “other cities” have beaches?)

There are other beach communities in Southern California who have done this.  And much to the detriment of those communities.  I know that  Venice – the beach community of Los Angeles – installed paid parking at their huge beaches years ago, and now it’s a nightmare for visitors and locals trying to park near the water.

OBcians have been fighting off parking meters and paid beach parking lots for decades.

Corporate Advertising at the Beach?

The other revenue stream that the City feels it’s missing is paid corporate advertising on City property. What property does the City have at the beach? Lifeguard stations, beach benches, restrooms, trash cans … even fire pits.  There is already some corporate advertising on lifeguard vehicles – but with all those blank walls and receptacles still there – the City could sell off that space to large corporations, and make some bucks.

Heck, why not even sell the space on lifeguard uniforms and suits? Obviously a female lifeguard’s uniform/ suit would bring more money in … okay I jest.

Seriously, this discussion has been going on for awhile now, (plus we’ve had some fun with the concept – go here). The San Diego City Council will probably be voting sometime soon on a plan to allow major name-brand advertising on all city beach lifeguard towers, beach benches, walkways, trash cans to help reduce the deficit and restore funds to lifeguards and other programs.  We agree with Joe LaCava, president of the La Jolla Community Planning Association, who said: “Protecting the parks and beaches from commercialization has long been a worthy goal.”

Here are some salient points that have been brought out in this discussion so far:

  • Advertising doesn’t belong on naturally picturesque beaches, as some places just have to be sacred, pristine and preserved for our sanity, and for the wild things, like birds, fish and animals.
  • People go to the beach to get away from advertising blight; it’s everywhere we look, ad nauseum (pun intended). [Hat tip to Sage Faber
  • We already have to put up with advertisements in the sky – you know – the long banners flying by during the summer months.
  • If ads are placed on lifeguard towers, and on “lifeguard assets” like rescue trucks, surfboards, equipment, T-shirts, trunks, and bathing suits — front and back, lifeguards would be in disguise – a very bad idea.
  • The advertisements themselves would possibly not be appropriate (giant Trojan ads on lifeguard stations?)
  • The projected revenue from ads would only be a “spit in the bucket” – and not worth losing our naturally gorgeous, eye-pleasing, nerve-easing beaches with their panoramic views of nothing but sand and sea, swimmers, surfers, and all manner of happy ad-free people;
  • And importantly, if ads took over parts of our beaches, local businesses and volunteer groups would be less likely to hold beach clean-ups and feel compelled to pick up trash beside the brand-names and their logos. In fact, one local business who frankly does quite a bit of cleaning of Dog Beach would absolutely halt their donations to the community, if ads are allowed.

If you don’t want advertising blight on our beautiful beaches, or if you don’t want paid parking at the beach – call, write or e-mail Ocean Beach’s City Council representative now, before it’s too late:  Kevin Faulconer 619-236-6622  – or email: kevinfaulconer@sandiego.gov .

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar ss December 14, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I have to comment on paid beach parking and you all can hate me now.
It is a great idea. It will generate needed revenue. But it has t be done correctly meters won’t do it.
A pass should be sold for frequent beach users, surfers who are in the water 3 or 4 times a week and others who use the lots on a regular basis. Maybe $50 or $100 a yr for a pass. Then there could be daily rates $10 a day or $2 an hr I don’t know but there is money to be made for our broke city.
I grew up on the water and we paid to go to the beach it was a locals pass and I don’t remember the cost maybe $15 back then for the season and anyone who has been to the jersey shore knows about beach tags that are required.
Lets get real and realize that having amenities like a seaweed free beach and life guards costs and we the citizens have to pay to use.
Heck San Diego doesn’t even tax its tourists.
For the record I use the beach a lot.

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avatar OB Joe December 14, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Don’t hate you ss, just disagree. Let’s tax the tourists. Heck, I know surfers who surf 3 times a day – As soon as you install passes, you begin the process of exclusion at the beach. I agree about what happened at Venice beach. And you cite the Jersey shore? Seems to me you left it.

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avatar dave rice December 14, 2010 at 1:52 pm

I definitely think the case against beach advertising is well made – especially considering that many community groups and businesses do a lot to sponsor these public areas with minimal or no recognition as it is. I’d think a lot of the ad revenue would go to replacing these contributions that are currently provided free of charge.

The parking is another issue. I stopped for breakfast on the way home from an overnight trip in San Clemente a while back and it really chapped my ass to have to try and dig up a few bucks, walk up a hill to a parking meter, then back to my car to display a tag, and then worry throughout my meal about whether a meter maid would find my car before I got back to it 10 minutes late when the bill took a while to process. And I’d also hate to think those volunteers at beach cleanups and beautification projects would be charged money on top of contributing their time, tools, and gas to get to an event…I’m sure there could be exemptions granted, but that in itself seems to present another roadblock and bureaucratic nightmare to getting anything good done by people who just want to be helpful. I guess I’d have to see a specific plan to really comment – for example, if we use meters are people going to have to keep checking their watch to see if it’s time to go scrounge in the car ashtray to buy another 2 hours of sunbathing?

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avatar Shane Finneran December 14, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Ah, austerity, ain’t it grand?

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avatar Abby December 14, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Why not just have a local parking pass that lets those who live here park for free and let the tourists feed the meters?

I tend to walk to the beach most of the time anyway.

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avatar Citizen Cane December 14, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Actually we already tax tourists at 12.5%. I’ve expected paid parking at Belmont Park for a while. The city already uses a lot of manpower to manage those beach and bay lots. They have people manning the barricades on busy days. Plus they have other staff walking around to prevent people from holding open spaces. It makes sense to replace several employees with one guy in a ticket booth.

I don’t expect all beaches to have pay parking. Some are more ripe for it that others. Somewhat related….demand for picnic tables is so high that there will probably be an online reservation sytem for picnic tables in the near future.

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avatar BillRayDrums December 15, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Let’s demand the politicians start wearing logos and insignias of the companies they shill for. That’s a start. Put your “brand” on the community, but wear it proudly yourself first!

I swear, all their personal effects should have a logo. Make their vehicles look like clown cars with all the adverts, then work on the wardrobe.

I told the Apple Store that in light of the 30 year feud they had with Apple RECORDS and all of a sudden they are pimping The Beatles because of a “Merger” of sorts…. the cute Beatles swag they are wearing would be better served with a miniature rendition of J,P,G or R strapped to their lower leg in a sexually suggestive manner…perhaps make it battery powered?

LOL look it’s The Apples….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o830EAgpJcU

That’s what it’s like!

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