Encinitas to enforce 2-hour parking limit on downtown streets

In response to complaints about people living out of their recreational vehicles, citations will be issued to those exceeding two-hour parking limits in downtown Encinitas.

The Encinitas City Council on July 15 unanimously approved the enforcement measure, which was brought forward by a new subcommittee that is addressing downtown issues, including homelessness, vagrancy, drug use and long-term parking on public streets.

“One of the issues that came up in the community was the question of parking downtown and the fact that we don’t enforce the two-hour parking rules,” said Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer, who sits on the subcommittee with Deputy Mayor Catherine Blakespear.

Tickets for violating the two-hour parking limit will be given through the summer, and the Sheriff’s Department in the fall will report back on the effectiveness of the enforcement measure.

Ever since the subcommittee began talking about downtown issues, the Sheriff’s Department has stepped up patrols and some problematic vehicles have moved on, Shaffer said.

“It seems that even having the discussion is having a beneficial impact,” she said.

The fine for exceeding the two-hour limit is $48.

Mayor Kristin Gaspar said the council will eventually consider strengthening its RV ordinance to prevent RVs and oversized vehicles from parking in beach lots all day and residential neighborhoods all night.

“That’s something that I look forward to coming back before the council,” Gaspar said. Gaspar added the updated ordinance would probably do more than the two-hour limit to combat people living in their vehicles in downtown.

Drivers cannot park between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. on city streets and public property, unless they display a permit, which allows parking for up to 72 hours, according to the existing ordinance.

Residents during a council meeting a month ago complained that people residing in their RVs in downtown were littering and taking up two-hour parking spots. But the July 15 agenda item didn’t draw any public speakers.

According to the subcommittee’s report, the goal is to enforce the two-hour limit without adding city staff, so city code enforcement officers and community service officers will write parking tickets when they get a chance. Community service officers lend Sheriff’s deputies a hand in crime investigations and enforcement.

The council previously expressed an interest in members of the Sheriff’s Senior Volunteer Patrol issuing citations. But the Sheriff’s Department was concerned that that could put senior volunteers in confrontational situations they aren’t trained for, the staff report stated.

The council also signed off on a slew of other short-term ideas intended to combat downtown problems. These include:

• The city exploring designating a City Hall parking lot as a “special waiting area” at night for those hailing taxis or ride-sharing services like Uber. The aim is to reduce crowd noise in front of homes and businesses.

• Identifying one or two city employees who will help expedite permits for the Alley Activation Project, an Encinitas 101 Main Street campaign to revitalize downtown alleys that attract drug use and other illegal activity.

• Have Sheriff’s Capt. Theresa Adams-Hydar and city staff provide an assessment in the fall about downtown problems. This is intended to inform future staffing decisions.

As a long-term step, Councilman Tony Kranz said the city should try to enlist the help of San Diego County public health services to address homelessness.

“Hopefully we can look at what we can do in that area, both at night and during the day, so that we can work with the homeless population,” Kranz said.