San Diego's Horton Plaza is a lively and convenient place to shop downtown. It also happens to be fairly close to the convention center where San Diego ComiCon has been hosted for the past several years. Unfortunately, the free three hour parking Horton Plaza patrons have enjoyed will be cut down to one hour with no need for validation.
The new policy went into effect this past Wednesday (June 29), along with the Plaza's new pricing strategy. Shoppers will now be required to pay $2 every 15 minutes for the first hour, or $8 an hour (maximum $48). After 8PM, rates will run $10 Sunday through Wednesday and $20 Thursday through Saturday.
Just in time for ComiCon!
The Plaza will offer the free hour starting at 5AM and going to 8PM. But some businesses, including 24HR Fitness and Jimbos, will validate parking passes up to two hours. The UA movie theater will validate up to three free hours (although it previously did four).
Westfield, the company that owns Horton Plaza and most UTC locations, gave no explanation for its policy change and refused to answer any questions. Five days before the change, Nordstrom announced it would be closing its doors in Horton Plaza.
“These rates are consistent with and comparable to other retail destinations, area attractions, and local businesses throughout the Gaslamp Quarter and Downtown San Diego,” Westfield said in a statement released Thursday. “In fact, allowing one free hour of parking is a service virtually unmatched in similar nearby facilities.”
This is the third policy change in as many years, the first being in February 2013, when Westfield began requiring a $10 purchase in exchange for three free hours of parking. The next came less than eight months later, when they did away with this requirement after customer backlash. They since erected self-validation machines at several garage entrances off the mall.
The newest policy change has many patrons upset.
“It sucks,” said Travis Leighton, rushing out of the parking garage to the downtown courthouse. “But it’s probably cheaper than most other lots downtown.”
“This is very disappointing because sometimes I like to meet people here for work and then maybe browse at Macy’s, and now I’ll have to think twice about it,” Isabel Eustaquio, who works in East Village, said.
“There’s nothing here I can’t get at other malls," Marsha Fernando, another patron, said, "and it’s already a difficult place to get around in, so this (parking change) doesn’t help their cause.”
It's hard enough finding parking downtown as it is!