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Hourly parking rates in the city of Del Mar will increase to $4 on Feb. 1. Photo by Laura Place
Hourly parking rates in the city of Del Mar will increase to $4 on Feb. 1. Photo by Laura Place
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New parking rates, low-income passes coming to Del Mar next month

DEL MAR — A planned increase in paid parking rates and a new low-income beach parking pass program will kick off in February in Del Mar.

Beginning Feb. 1, hourly parking rates will increase from $3 to $4, and daily rates will increase from a maximum of $15 to $20. The city will also add a 30-cent credit card fee for meter payments, and rates will be permitted to increase by up to 3% each year based on inflation.

The changes come as part of a Coastal Development Permit conditionally approved by the California Coastal Commission in early 2023. The city was required to apply for the permit before implementing new parking rates due to the potential impacts on public coastal access.

As part of their conditional approval, the commission added various requirements for the city to implement before allowing the new rates to go into effect. This includes a low-income beach parking pass program in Del Mar, which will allow qualifying individuals to park for free in paid city spaces.

According to Del Mar Community Services Director Jon Edelbrock, this is something that could soon be required in most coastal cities.

“Del Mar is the first local jurisdiction to implement this new statewide program that we’re aware of,” Edelbrock said at the City Council’s Dec. 18 meeting. “The intention is for people to be able to access and recreate at the public beach and coastal parks.”

Under the program, which also begins Feb. 1, individuals who qualify for other low-income programs such as Medicaid/Medi-Cal, CalFresh, Supplemental Security Income or San Diego County’s rental assistance programs will be able to obtain a pass to park for free in Del Mar.

A visitor pays to park at the Seagrove Parking Lot in Del Mar on Tuesday. Hourly rates in the city will increase to $4 on Feb. 1. Photo by Laura Place
A visitor pays to park at the Seagrove Parking Lot in Del Mar on Tuesday. Hourly rates in the city will increase to $4 on Feb. 1. Photo by Laura Place

The annual pass is not limited to Del Mar residents and does not have an hourly time limit. Passholders are required to renew it every year.

California Coastal Commission representatives said preserving affordable coastal access is a crucial element of the Coastal Act, and clarified that interventions like the low-income parking program are considered on a case-by-case basis, they said.

“Commission staff acknowledges that the price of parking continues to be a relevant issue based on the existing infrastructure that favors transportation by personal vehicle, including for residents of inland communities wishing to spend time at the coast. In this way, parking continues to be a concern from the standpoint of both general public access as well as environmental justice,” said Coastal Planner Stephanie Leach.

City Council members were supportive of the program but did raise concerns about how the city would vet applicants.

Councilmember Terry Gaasterland noted that holders of the California State Parks’ Golden Bear Pass, which offers free parking at state beaches to seniors and qualifying low-income individuals, can already park for free in Del Mar.

She asked if the city could prevent those passholders from obtaining a city pass for a second vehicle.

“It’s a great idea; I support the concept, but I see all sorts of room for abuse,” Gaasterland said of the program.

City officials said the city pass will be granted on a per-household basis and is not needed for those who already have the Golden Bear Pass. The city does not do the income-qualifying process but relies on whether individuals qualify for other programs.

The beach parking pass does not apply to Maiden Lane or the Seagrove Parking Lot, the city said.

City Manager Ashley Jones said the city can remain in contact with the Coastal Commission about the new program and notify them of any issues.

“We have the opportunity to go back to them and tell them what’s working and what’s not,” Jones said.

Beginning in February, applicants can apply for the parking pass online at or in person at the Beach Safety Center at 1700 Coast Blvd. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Another Coastal Commission condition requires the city to remove 114 paid parking spaces along Via de la Valle and convert them into free spaces. Edelbrock said change is beneficial for the city, as the cost to maintain the meters on Via de la Valle exceeds the revenue they bring in.

Del Mar’s annual revenue from paid parking, anticipated to total $1.35 million in this fiscal year, goes to multiple sources, including lifeguard operations, code enforcement, trash services, cleaning at city beaches and parks, and various city capital projects.

The city will also be required to submit annual paid parking reports to the commission.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to include a comment from the California Coastal Commission. 

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