Encinitas considers hiring private company to handle parking enforcement

The downtown Encinitas sign
(Karen Billing)

Council eliminates proposed roundabout from Leucadia Streetscape project


Encinitas will rework its municipal regulations to allow a private company to handle city parking enforcement duties, including writing tickets, the City Council unanimously decided.

They were quick to point out that their vote was only the first step. The proposal will need to go back to the council for a second vote, and any proposed contract with a private company will also require council approval at a later point.

Councilmember Joe Mosca, who represents the city’s far eastern region, repeatedly said that he was willing to support the changes because the plan was to only use the extra enforcement in the city’s core coastal downtown area and along the railroad corridor — two areas where the lack of parking has been a perennial complaint. Other parts of town don’t have the same issues that the coastal beach region does, Mosca said, adding that he didn’t want it to become “a slippery slope where we’re starting to use that (company) through all parts of our city.”

However, other council members said they might be willing to consider other areas for extra enforcement. Councilmember Tony Kranz said the region near the railroad has been the subject of “countless complaints” about parking issues, while Councilmember Joy Lyndes said she would like to see the proposed enforcement program include the Cardiff region.

Downtown business owners and the area’s Main Street Association have been asking the city to increase enforcement of parking regulations, particularly time limits on parking spots, to free up space for customers, city senior management analyst Patrick Piatt said. One way to do that would be to hire an independent company, but the city’s current code only allows peace officers and city employees to enforce the regulations and issue citations for violations, hence the recommendation to change the city code, he said.

Coastal business owners aren’t the only ones in favor of more enforcement, area resident Tim Bratton said as he showed the council many photographs of illegally parked vehicles that have blocked his driveway. People are in such a rush to get to the beach that they’ll park anywhere, he said, adding that he’s called in to the Sheriff’s department for ticketing enforcement so often that he’s overwhelmed the deputies and they’ve told him they don’t want to write any more.

In other action at the council’s March 23 meeting, the council unanimously agreed to eliminate a proposed traffic circle roundabout from the next phase of the Leucadia Streetscape project and approved a new five-year contract with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, which provides policing services for the city.

The Streetscape project involves overhauling a 2.5-mile stretch of Coast Highway from A Street to La Costa Avenue. The first portion of the work between Marcheta and Basil streets is currently underway and is scheduled to conclude in May.

The next phase, which includes improvements from Jupiter Street to Moorgate Road, was to include three traffic circle roundabouts, but negotiations with private property owners to obtain part of the land needed for one of the roundabouts — the Bishop’s Gate Road roundabout — have been unsuccessful. In order to proceed with construction in a timely fashion, city employees recommended that the roundabout construction be deferred and the roadway plans be redesigned to accommodate this change. Council members agreed to spend $100,000 on the redesign work.

No changes to city policing services are proposed in the newly approved, five-year Sheriff’s Department contract. It calls for an increase of $172,662, or 1 percent more, for the first year of the contract. The second year of the contract includes another 1 percent increase, while years three through five contain 3.5 percent increases.