Council slow-walks parking permit program

Hermosa’s cheery 2022-23 parking permits will cost residents and employees a 22 percent more than last year’s permits. Image courtesy of the city of Hermosa Beach 

by Kevin Cody

The Hermosa Beach City Council voted four to one Tuesday night to increase residential parking permit fees from the $40 annually set in 2008 to $50 annually, and to impose a three-permit limit per address. A fourth permit will be allowed under special circumstances. Absentee property owners will no longer be allowed to buy parking permits.

The vote was preceded by a three hour discussion centered on whether the permits should be cost-based, or market-based.

Councilman Rob Saemann proposed the $50 fee based on the permit program’s administrative and enforcement costs. He said the administrative costs are $30 per permit.

“Parking permits should not be a revenue stream for the city,” Saemann said.

City staff had proposed tiered pricing, starting at $50 for the first permit, $75 for the second, $100 for the third and $150 for the fourth permit. 

The staff increases would have generated an additional $272,000 annually.

In casting the dissenting vote, Councilman Justin Massey argued, “Permit fees are not about revenue, or covering the cost of the program. It’s about allocating limited parking as efficiently as we can. The way to do that is through pricing. That’s how you allocate limited resources in a capitalist system.”

“The rates in the staff report are modest, versus the value of the  permit. $40 a year is 10 cents a day. $150 a year is less than 50 cents a day,” Massey noted.

Last year, the city sold 8,926 residential parking permits to 1,084 residences in the permit zone. The permits allow free parking at the 1,212 yellow meters along Hermosa Avenue, and neighboring streets.

Councilman Dean Francois argued unsuccessfully that permit eligibility should be based on car registration, rather than address.

“What if there are four or five people living at an address. Do just the first three to rush to city hall get permits?” he asked.

“If a person owns multiple cars, do they get multiple permits?” Massey countered.

“There is no reason a person should have multiple cars in their name,” Francois responded.

“Parking is the elephant in the room,” Saemann observed. Prior to being elected to council in November, he served on the planning commission for 11 years.

“And parking is going to get worse,” Saemann said. “If residents want to convert their two car garages to ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units,) the state mandates they don’t have to replace the lost onsite parking. 

“It’s frustrating because for all these years the planning commission has been working on the parking problem (by increasing parking requirements on new developments), and now the state comes along, and says they don’t care how densely populated your city is, and how little parking you have, these are the new rules.”

Mayor Raymond Jackson described the $50 permit rate as an “incremental” step. He proposed that staff bring a new permit plan back to the council in the fall that would limit permits to residents who don’t have adequate onsite parking.

“I spoke to a contractor who described the parking permit program as an expansion of livable space, at taxpayers expense, because it enables residents to turn their garages into storage units, offices, and gyms,” Jackson said.

Massey said residents, as part of the “social compact” should be using their onsite parking for parking. ER


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