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Del Mar offers free parking

DEL MAR — For the second consecutive year, the Del Mar Village Association has partnered with the city to help make the holidays a bit more affordable by offering 13 days of free parking in the downtown area.
Every Saturday and Sunday from Nov. 21 through Dec. 20 — as well as on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day — parking will be complimentary in the metered spaces under L’Auberge Del Mar, on 15th Street and along Camino del Mar from 15th to Fourth Street.
“That’s about 350 shoppers that are now going to be a little bit happier that time of year when they don’t have a ticket sitting on their car,” Jen Grove, DMVA executive director, said. “In terms of the feedback we got last year, it was overwhelmingly positive from both the community and the visitors and from the businesses.”
Bags indicating the enforcement-free spaces will be placed on meters and signs. Visitors and residents are strongly encouraged to check all signage. Parking will continue to be enforced in the beach area and restricted zones.
Pat Vergne, community services director, said the program will cost the city about $5,000 in lost revenue from parking fees and tickets. Last year, when the pilot program offered only seven free-parking days, it was estimated it would cost the city about $4,500. City Manager Karen Brust said the actual lost revenues “came in very close” to that estimate.
Council members showed unanimous support for the program. “We’re trying to buff up our image in town,” Councilman Richard Earnest said. “I think we ought to take whatever steps, within reason, to do that and I think this is reasonable.”
“It is a relief to not hear on the radio that the only place where the meters are still being enforced is in Del Mar,” Mayor Crystal Crawford said.
Customers who spend $75 or more at downtown stores between Nov. 21 and Dec. 24 will receive a $15 voucher to dine at designated Del Mar restaurants. For younger visitors, Santa Claus will be at the Plaza posing for pictures and discussing holiday wish lists every Saturday and Sunday from Nov. 29 through Dec. 20.
DMVA is also hosting the annual holiday wonderland from 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 6. The family event will feature arts and crafts, music, performers, restaurant tastes and a gift bazaar.