Parking at a new meter for the day costs $2 more than paying for parking inside the fairgrounds.
  • Parking at a new meter for the day costs $2 more than paying for parking inside the fairgrounds.
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Over the winter, the city of Del Mar widened and repaved its northern boundary, the busy Via de La Valle, between Coast Highway and Jimmy Durante Boulevard. They also added a bike lane and a sidewalk for the six-tenths-of-a-mile stretch overlooking the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

But on June 1, the other thing the city added is ticking off longtime fair-goers: parking meters.

“It’s a shame because that’s where a lot of workers and volunteers would park for free,” said Chris Platis, a long-time host in the fair’s woodworking exhibits. “Locals would also park there just to run into the fair for a few hours.” (The “Solana” gate on Via de La Valle is known as the local’s entrance to the fairgrounds.)

The revenue-generating idea may have backfired on Del Mar, the only city in the county infamous for enforcing their parking meters seven days a week, even on legal holidays.

On one of the fair’s busiest days to date, Sunday, June 11, at 4:00 p.m., only about 20 motorists chose the paid parking option. Most of the street, even spaces closest to Coast Highway and Dog Beach, were vacant. However, on the other side of the street, which is in Solana Beach, the free parking spots were jam packed, with fair parkers extending up onto the side streets of the neighborhood.

With new parallel and reverse diagonal parking, the project added about 125 new spaces to the few formerly free spaces. At $15 for the day (or $1.50/hour), it's $2 more than paying for parking inside the fairgrounds. Less than two miles east on Via de La Valle, at the Horse Park, hundreds of free parking spots can be found with shuttles that run every ten minutes to the fair. (The Horse Park, being just inside the San Diego city limits, is out of Del Mar’s jurisdiction.)

“I think they went overboard and got too aggressive,” said one source inside the city. “I wish they [the meters] would go away after the summer.” But he conceded he expects the new paid parking would probably be full over the fair’s Fourth of July weekend and opening day of the races.

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Visduh June 13, 2017 @ 8:40 p.m.

This is rather typical of Del Mar. The city has a love-hate relationship with the Fair and the racing season. Its city government loves the revenue it gets from all the activity. But the residents hate the sleaze, the noise, the crowds, and the general tackiness. Since there's no getting rid of the fairgrounds/racetrack, the city wants to get the maximum benefit. So, putting in a flock of overpriced and round-the-clock-enforced metered spaces was just a way to milk the operation.


CaptainObvious June 14, 2017 @ 12:55 p.m.

Like Monterey and San Francisco, if you make parking expensive, I won't spend any money or time there. Pass it on.


Ponzi June 14, 2017 @ 8:38 p.m.

I lived in Del Mar Heights for many years. Though technically not Del Mar (only "Del Mar" by ZIP Code), I did quite a bit of business and dining in Del Mar. At the time there was one woman in a straw hat that walked back-and-forth all day writing parking tickets. She wrote my car a ticket at the Post Office because the time limit is 15 minutes but the Post Office can be very slow. I fought the ticket.

Del Mar residents and their city council should be ashamed of their reputation of their very aggressive (abuse) of their parking assets. Greedy, small minded little city of 1% jackasses.


Visduh June 16, 2017 @ 8:27 p.m.

Gee, Ponz, why don't tell us how you REALLY feel about the city of Del Mar? Your image of the residents doesn't exactly mesh with mine, and I'll defer to yours. Once the area became so in-demand, everyone who lived there seemed to want to pull up the wall and keep everyone else out. But to support that high-rent business district they needed others to patronize the places. But welcome those out-of-towners? No, it was more remunerative to sock them with parking violations. Crazy town, Del Mar. 'Nuff said.


interloper June 15, 2017 @ 7:08 a.m.

If my memory serves me, and there is no guarantee of that, there was a time in the late 1980's when the City of Del Mar tried to put parking meters on the north side of Via De La Valle.


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