It comes as no surprise to anyone who’s been to Westfield UTC lately that the mall is about to start charging for parking. Ticket kiosks and parking barriers have been visible to shoppers entering the parking for months, although they aren’t in use yet.
Westfield announced Tuesday a parking rate of $3 per hour will go into effect sometime in the fall. The first two hours will still be free, and Arclight Cinema and 24-Hour Fitness patrons will be able to receive validation for additional free hours. Westfield did not specify how many more hours the validation would be good.
Understandably, some shoppers and mall employees aren't happy about the changes.
"If our malls are already failing due to online shopping, this is not a good way to have people come shop in our brick and mortar stores." (Arles Goodin, Crate and Barrell Employee) ((VO))
"If our malls are already failing due to online shopping, this is not a good way to have people come shop in our brick and mortar stores," said Arles Goodin, a Crate and Barrell Employee.
A statement on Westfield's website said their research finds two hours will accommodate nearly 85 percent of their customers.
"I would object and I would follow up by not coming here," Carlsbad resident Stephanie Taylor told NBC 7.
"I won't have a huge reason to come, it will be a deterrent," Christine Dammann of Del Cerro agreed.
UTC is also constructing a new five-level parking garage with a parking guidance system that will use red and green lights to direct drivers to the first available spots.
A new, four-lane valet drive-up will soon be available on La Jolla Drive and there is a new designated Uber drop-off and pick-up station near Room &Board.
Malls such as Fashion Valley and Mission Valley still offer free parking.