CARLSBAD — As of Feb. 15, California State Parks started charging for parking at the state-owned lot at Tamarack Avenue and Carlsbad Boulevard, part of Carlsbad State Beach known by locals as Tamarack Surf Beach.
Although the city of Carlsbad was not able to stop the state from charging for parking, it did convince the state to offer hourly rates instead of the traditional day rate, reducing the burden on beachgoers who want to go surfing or enjoy a walk on the sea wall.
A machine that takes cash, credit cards and debit cards will collect an hourly rate of $2 or a day rate of $10 and issue a receipt to be displayed on vehicle dashboards. Parking is included with an annual State Parks pass, which costs $125 and can be purchased online at http://store.parks.ca.gov/ and at the local state parks office, 2680 Carlsbad Blvd.
State Park Peace Officers and other state staff will distribute warnings and courtesy notices to visitors during the first month of the program. At the end of that period, vehicles not properly displaying a current pass or receipt will be issued a citation and fined up to $64.
The city of Carlsbad sued the state over its plans to charge for parking at the popular local beach. The lawsuit was settled in October, and the city was successful in getting the state to agree to hourly parking instead of only offering a full date rate. The city’s action also delayed the implementation of the paid parking by more than a year and until after the 2009 summer season.
Parking Company of America – San Diego was awarded a one-year contract to provide the fee collection service. Employees of Parking Company of America and California State Parks will be on hand for the first few weeks of the new program to assist users with becoming familiar with the new machines.
State Parks has the ability to charge fees for beach parking, but it was not allowed to proceed with the installation of the fee collection device as approved by the California Coastal Commission while Carlsbad’s legal challenge was pending. In 2007, State Parks took the first step toward charging for parking at Tamarack Surf Beach by filing an application with the California Coastal Commission. The city of Carlsbad opposed this move, first through testimony in front of the Coastal Commission and ultimately through a lawsuit.
State Parks has estimated it needs approximately $700,000 a year to operate and maintain Carlsbad State Beach, which spans from just south of Cannon Road to Pine Avenue. State Parks estimates it will generate approximately $590,000 a year from paid parking at Tamarack Surf Beach. State Parks owns the beach and provides lifeguard service, restrooms, picnic areas, showers and parking lots.