Pacifica may charge to park at beach

Beachcombers may soon have to pay to park at Linda Mar Beach, a move that could net the city more than $100,000 annually but could leave nearby businesses short on parking spaces.

The City Council this week directed staff to ask the state — which owns the beach, technically named Pacifica State Beach — for permission to start charging for parking at one of Pacifica’s most popular waterfront destinations. Staff members are drafting a request to the state Coastal Commission for the new parking rates, which would be $40 annually and $3 daily for nonresidents.

Council members suggested that Pacifica residents receive a discounted rate of approximately $20 annually. With the resident discount, the annual revenue could be anywhere between $110,000 and $112,000, according to Interim City Manager Bill Norton.

Charging for parking at the existing Linda Mar lot — which Norton said has 103 spaces — has been discussed for nearly two years. With the city facing a $1.1 million deficit this upcoming fiscal year — resulting in layoffs and across-the-board budget cuts — Norton said it was time to start bringing revenue into city coffers as soon as possible.

The city receives no funding from the state for maintenance and general beach upkeep, though the beach is part of the state beach system.

“They said they would maintain it but didn’t,” Norton said. “So the city picked up the slack, but it’s starting to get expensive for us at this time.”

Some merchants in the Linda Mar Shopping Center, located across the street from the beach, are concerned that beachgoers may not want to fork over the $3 per day for parking and will instead make use of the shoppers-only spots at the center. That would fill up parking spots and potentially keep mall patrons away.

Patty Bowman, owner of Patty’s Hallmark in the shopping center, said a hit to business would be particularly dreadful for a number of Linda Mar merchants, including herself, who are just now recovering from the economic downturn following the Highway 1 closure at Devil’s Slide last year.

Jeremiah Johnson, Pacifica resident and manager of NorCal Surf Shop near the beach, said that he understands why the city needs the money. Ideally, the parking fee revenue would go toward additional beach cleanup and maintenance, which he said has been “fair” over the last several years. The surf shop has its own private parking lot, which also sees a number of beach visitors in search of close, extra spaces.

“It could be good for the city of Pacifica, but bad for business, I think,” Johnson said.

tramroop@examiner.com

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