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Starting on Monday, February 15, the Tamarack Surf Beach located just west of Carlsbad Boulevard and Tamarack Avenue will charge visitors to park their vehicles on an hourly basis.

The beach’s parking lot — state-owned property — has been stirring up controversy since late 2007, when the State first proposed fees. The City of Carlsbad was able to delay the installation of fee-collecting machines by testifying to the California Coastal Commission and then filing a lawsuit against the State.

Residents in the area have been worried that vehicles of visitors, tourists, and beachgoers will clog up streets in an effort to avoid paying to park. A City of Carlsbad news announcement on February 11 attempted to reassure residents: “[The City] will actively enforce all traffic and parking laws to protect the quality of life of nearby residents.”

The lawsuit against the State was settled in September of 2009, when the City was able to convince the State to charge parking fees per hour, instead of implementing a flat daily fee. The rate is $2 per hour with a maximum daily limit of $10. Violators may be issued a parking citation of up to $64.

Lifeguard service, restrooms, picnic areas, and showers at Tamarack are also provided by the State. According to the State Parks of California, the annual estimated cost to operate and maintain the beach is approximately $700,000. The State expects to generate $590,000 from the parking fees.

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