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: email@example.com .