DEL MAR — As proof that Del Mar is not “Scrooge-like,” as Councilwoman Crystal Crawford put it, the city, in conjunction with the Del Mar Village Association, is offering seven days of free parking in the downtown area this holiday season.
The enforcement-free days — Nov. 29, Dec. 6, Dec. 13, Dec. 20, Dec. 24, Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 — will be limited to meters at the L’Auberge resort and parking spaces in the downtown central commercial zone only along 15th Street and Camino del Mar down to Fourth Street. The beach area is not included.
The pilot program is being paired with the DMVA’s annual dining voucher plan. Shoppers who spend $75 at downtown stores between Nov. 28 and Dec. 24 will receive a $15 voucher redeemable until March 2009 at Americana Cafe, Cafe Del Mar, Del Mar Brigantine, En Fuego, Epazote, Giorgio’s, Jimmy O’s, Kitchen 1540/L’Auberge, Pacifica Breeze Cafe, Pacifica Del Mar, Poseidon and Sbicca.
It is estimated the program will cost the city a maximum of $4,500. However, attracting more shoppers to downtown Del Mar could potentially increase sales tax, which would offset some of the lost parking revenue.
For the past few years, parking was free throughout the city on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. Council members plan to continue that tradition this season, but enforcement officers will still continue to patrol the city on those days for cars parked illegally in areas such as red and blue zones.
Bags designed and funded by DMVA will indicate where and when parking is free. If a meter or sign is not covered to indicate parking is free, it likely is not. Visitors and residents are strongly encouraged to check all signage, lest they return to their vehicles to find they have been visited by the parking ghost of Christmas present.