The Coast News Group
The Marina Towers private parking lot sign has to be removed as part of a coastal development permit. Photo courtesy of Shari Mackin
The Marina Towers private parking lot sign has to be removed as part of a coastal development permit. Photo courtesy of Shari Mackin
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Oceanside working to fix public parking blunder in harbor

OCEANSIDE — The city is working to address a violation from the California Coastal Commission after years of inadequate public parking signage for a shared parking lot adjacent to the harbor.

A few weeks ago, the city received notice of the violation from the Coastal Commission Enforcement Department, which pointed out that a city parking lot shared with Marina Towers Condominiums near Oceanside Harbor did not have the proper signage to indicate the lot offers public parking.

“I visited the site along with enforcement and we observed the existing signage for Marina Tower Parking, but there was no other signage to indicate the public parking in the lot, as per the permit requirement,” wrote Coastal Program Analyst Nora Ives to City Manager Jonathan Borrego and Director of Development Services Darlene Nicandro. 

Ives also said the city needs to remove the Marina Towers sign at the entrance and replace it with standard city public parking signage. 

“Given that the only existing signage is for Marina Tower parking, it implies to a general member of the public that the parking is private and for residents of the Marina Towers only,” Ives said.

Oceanside resident Shari Mackin said the parking lot has been kept from the public since 2009.

“It has been used exclusively for residents and guests of the Marina Towers (MT) since the MT sale in 2009,” Mackin said via email.

The parking lot in question is split in ownership between the city and Marina Towers, with the city owning the northern portion and Marina Towers owning the southeastern portion, according to Nicandro. Under a coastal development permit amendment approved in 2008, the lot must have 50 public parking spaces along with signs to demonstrate the public portion of the lot while also removing the private parking sign for Marina Towers. 

The Marina Towers sign still remains, and the city hasn’t improved public parking indicating the lot, nor has it included the lot in its catalog of public parking options on its website.

“Over the years, there has been a lot of back and forth between myself and the city with regards to that parking lot and the lack of signage of the public free parking lot,” Mackin said. “I hear from people frequently regarding coastal issues, and the last time I heard from someone regarding the public parking sign missing, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Mackin then alerted the Coastal Commission of the issue, to which the agency responded by notifying the city of the violation and demanding a fix. 

“We are actively working with Coastal Commission staff and representatives from Marina Towers to ensure that the property’s public parking area is properly signed,” Borrego said via email. “Because we took prompt action to resolve this issue once it was brought to our attention, we do not expect the Coastal Commission to take any punitive action against the city.”

Nicandro said the city has since established plans to install proper public parking signage within the city’s right-of-way, which is expected to cost about $2,000 and includes signage, striping and staff time.

The parking lot provides free public parking as well as the large Harbor Lot #1 through the pedestrian tunnel, whereas other parking lots throughout the harbor require guests to pay to park there. 

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