A Grinch Missed? Public park fees in San Marino


A friend gave me call the other day and it went down something like this.  “The assholes, did you hear what San Marino did?”

“Nope, now what?” 

“They are charging NON-RESIDENTS fees to use public parks”.  What….and the fume went further.  They had gotten wind that Lacy Park, funded with a lot of state money for parks is charging admission to non-San Marino residents.   They even went as far as to rant that their source, a little old lady in San Marino, was glad it was going to keep the riff raff out of San Marino.  They opined that San Marino was trying to remain lily white within its borders (that’s too late given the large Asian population but that’s another stupid debate for another time).

So after a bit of research I found this interesting op-ed piece in the LA Times titled: “You paid for San Marino to play” by Steve Lopez.  The article confirms the $4.00 fee charged to non-residents to use the park, reportedly to cover the city overhead for maintenance and parking.

US, State and County parks charge fees.  Monrovia charges fees to it’s Canyon Park so the idea of charging at a municipal level isn’t unheard of.

So what do you have to say.  Does a city have the right to charge parking to use public parks?  If so can they designate the fee to only non-residents? 

5 thoughts on “A Grinch Missed? Public park fees in San Marino”

  1. I learned about this a couple of years ago, when I went to walk my dog at Lacey Park on a Saturday. Back then, the park was free to everyone during the week, but only freely open to residents on the weekends (all others had to pay the 4 bucks). I took this to the next level and felt that San Marinoans were trying to keep their nannies,maids and gardeners out of the park, presumably, on their days off (but it’s fine for them during the week when they are escorting all the little rich kids). Yes I have issues with the wealthy, especially in regards to exclusivity (the separate security line at the airport burns me up!). Since that fateful Saturday I’ve never returned to Lacey Park, NOT ONCE. Yes it’s a beautiful park, perhaps the most beautiful, but why not charge the residents (they pay a crapload of taxes to live in San M. to begin with, what’s a little more?) instead of those who don’t live there and thus are less likely to afford it? Note, that it’s 4 dollars per person, not per family. So if you bring the wife and kiddies, it adds up to a pretty expensive afternoon in the park. At least in fairness, charge everyone equally.

  2. i do believe that it is only the weekends and holidays that Lacy park charges to non-residents. it’s been a few weeks, but i’ve gone walking there during the week w/o hassles. not that it’s right, but the walk around the park is equally nice.

  3. I believe Monrovia charges for *parking* in Canyon Park, not day use.

    Unlike San Marino, which charges for use. Has anyone ever gotten a ticket for not paying though ?

  4. Skelly, it is true Canyon Parks “fee” is a parking fee not a day use fee, but a fee is a fee.
    This one is at least applied across the board and fairly. It is used to upgrade and maintain that park I have been told so it doesn’t bother me, much. It at least is per car, not per person.

    I do know people who have been ticketed for not paying the fee. It is steep. They even have a nasty old troll that patrols and tickets even if your car has a few inches past a parking spot.

  5. “…why not charge the residents (they pay a crapload of taxes to live in San M. to begin with, what’s a little more?) instead of those who don’t live there…”

    The above illustrates a lapse of clear thinking. If a “crapload” of taxes have been levied on San Marino’s residents then apparently they have already been “charged” for park use. Kelly proposes charging residents twice and non-residents nothing.

    The better argument is that State and Federal (our) funds have been used to upgrade/maintain the park. Since “we” all have already paid, we should all be charged a similar entrance fee or not at all.

    Though, if it does keep the riffraff out then I’m all for it.

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