A parking meter near Main Beach in Santa Cruz.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Santa Cruz Main Beach parking rates to increase Sunday as city prepares for tourist season

Base parking meter rates in and around the beach will increase from $1.80 per hour to $2.25 per hour — a 25% increase — starting May 1. It’s the first rate increase since 2019.

New, higher parking rates will kick in around Santa Cruz’s Main Beach area come Sunday, May 1, according to an ordinance finalized by the city council on Tuesday.

Base parking meter rates in and around the beach will increase from $1.80 per hour to $2.25 per hour — a 25% increase. Under the new rate structure, the maximum daily parking rate for 12 hours in a lot without variable rates would be $27.

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Parking in areas with variable rates will be pricier, starting at $2.25 an hour and doubling every two hours for part of the 12-hour maximum period:

  • First and second hour: $2.25 each
  • Third and fourth: $4.50 each
  • Each additional hour: $9

The last time the city council increased meter rates around Main Beach was in August 2019, when rates went from $1.50 per hour to $1.80 per hour.

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In announcing and explaining the rate hikes, Santa Cruz officials noted that “the city continues to face a structural budget deficit, with added challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic” and “the beach area continues to be a high demand attraction” for some 4 million tourists who visit Santa Cruz every year (when there isn’t a pandemic).

The Main Beach parking increases are expected to help net the city an extra $300,000 a year to help chip away at the budget gap, city officials previously said.

More City of Santa Cruz parking information is available at cityofsantacruz.com/parkingservices.

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