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San Diego County Digest

San Diego

November 14, 1991

Inspired by the furor over the imposition of parking fees at Old Town, Assemblyman Mike Gotch (D-San Diego) says he intends to propose legislation that would keep parking free.

Gotch called parking fees "the government's simplistic solution to a budget deficit" and said the bill, if passed, would prohibit the state from charging fees for parking on state-owned land that commercial activities take place.

State officials announced recently that, beginning March 1, 1992, parking would no longer be free at the Old Town historical park. Parking fees will be collected daily, they said, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., from April 15 through Oct. 15, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. the rest of the year.

The announced fee will be $1 an hour, with a maximum of $5 a day.

Old Town merchants and residents had long opposed such fees, and Gotch said they have a right to be angry about the bureaucracy having turned a "deaf ear."

"Rather than looking within its $175-million budget for greater efficiency, state park officials now want to tax the public for a Sunday in the park," Gotch said Tuesday.

He noted that Old Town is California's state park attendance leader; that businesses within the park pay the state $1.4 million a year in rent and $1.8 million a year in sales tax, and that concessionaires at Bazaar del Mundo pay the state more than all concessionaires in the state park system combined.

Gotch said the bill could not be introduced until after Jan. 1, but, if it passes, would be in place well before the March 1 start of the fees.

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