A $68 parking ticket? San Diego wants to make street-sweeping tickets 30 percent more expensive

A row of parked cars on a tree-lined city street
(Howard Lipin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The proposal, which would boost revenue by $5 million, is part of a broader campaign to boost funding to reduce pollution in local waterways.


A street-sweeping parking ticket could soon get a lot more expensive.

San Diego officials want to raise the cost of a street-sweeping traffic citation by more than 30 percent to boost revenue by about $5 million and encourage more people to clear curbs so city sweepers can keep streets cleaner.

The proposal, which would increase the cost of a citation from $52.50 to $68.50, comes one month after city officials announced they were revamping street-sweeping routes following a study that showed the system could be more efficient.

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Increasing revenue from citations is part of a broader campaign by San Diego to raise more money to help comply with new state stormwater mandates that aim to clean up waterways.

Other efforts include raising stormwater inspection fees, stepping up enforcement of stormwater regulations and making plans for a ballot measure that would create a dedicated funding stream for stormwater.

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San Diego now generates an average of $61 million per year for stormwater funding but is expected to need an average of $335 million per year over the next two decades, city officials said.

The cost of street-sweeping tickets, issued to vehicles parked in sweeping areas during designated sweep times, hasn’t risen since 2003, officials said. The proposed increase would take effect Jan. 1.

About 102,000 citations are issued every year for violations of street-sweeping parking restrictions. The city collected $7.3 million in fines during the fiscal year that ended June 30.

There are no plans to raise the fines for other types of parking citations.

The increase would move San Diego from the middle of the pack for local street-sweeping fines up to the top, surpassing UC San Diego’s fine of $65.

Encinitas charges $53, Chula Vista $47.50, Escondido $46, La Mesa $42.50, National City $35 and Del Mar $33.

But compared to other large California cities, San Diego would be in the middle of the pack. San Francisco charges $85, Los Angeles $73, Oakland $66 and San Jose $60.

The City Council’s Budget and Government Efficiency Committee forwarded the proposal Wednesday to the full City Council for approval. Committee member Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe, who represents low-income neighborhoods in District 4, voted against the proposal.

“I understand the importance, but for me it’s a little bit premature,” said Montgomery Steppe, stressing that low-income families are also facing higher energy bills, gas bills and water bills. “I just don’t want to nickel and dime people right out of San Diego, and I feel like that’s what we’re doing, especially lower-income communities who aren’t able to handle the impact.”

Council President Sean Elo-Rivera said increasing city revenue was too important to oppose the increase. But he expressed similar concerns.

“I’ve been the person who is struggling to get by and gets a street-sweeping ticket,” he said. “It’s like just another thing that makes life more difficult.”

There is no date set for when the City Council will vote on this proposal.

City officials said efforts to let residents know about the increase would include fliers on cars in street-sweeping zones, a social media information campaign and promotion on the city’s Think Blue website.

The state takes $12.50 of every citation to fund the court system and prisons.

The city’s fleet of 28 sweepers covers 61,000 miles of streets annually, removing approximately 4,700 tons of trash and debris per year.

The recent route vamp reduced the frequency of sweeps where relatively little trash was being collected and increased it on routes where relatively large amounts were.

Neighborhoods where sweeping is now more frequent on some streets are Clairemont, Linda Vista, Bay Park, Miramar, Mira Mesa and University City.

Sweeping is now less frequent on some streets in Peninsula, Midway-Pacific Highway, Balboa Park, Normal Heights, Kensington, the College Area, Grantville, Logan Heights, Encanto and Golden Hill.