Avoiding the vehicle entrance fee at Lodi Lake Park this summer could lead to a $50 fine, thanks to a new ordinance passed by the Lodi City Council on Wednesday.
Currently, park users only pay to bring in a car if the Turner Road booth is staffed. But no one is there to collect fees before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m., so many visitors slip through without paying since the park is open from dawn until dusk. That means the city is losing out on tens of thousands of dollars a year, said Jeff Hood, director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services.
“We’re not going to get everybody. We’re not trying to get everybody. But we want to let people know the entry fee is something we’re trying to collect,” he said.
The city approved a fine of $50 for not paying the vehicle entrance fee. That’s the same price as the annual Lodi Lake parking pass, which went on sale in May.
The park has required fees for vehicle entry since 1976, though the cost has changed. There is no fee for entering on foot or by bicycle, but all cars coming in must pay a fee. Lodi residents pay $4 for any vehicle, while seniors and people with disabilities pay $2. Non-residents pay $5 or a $3 discounted rate for seniors and people with disabilities. Launching a boat costs an additional $5.
If the attendant isn’t there, park-goers will now be able to leave their payment in a metal fee box, called an “iron ranger.” It’s the same style used in many state and county parks. The fee goes in a numbered envelope, while the visitor tears off a tab to leave on the dashboard of their car to prove they paid.
When the attendant comes in for the shift, he or she will check the stack of envelopes against the cars parked in the lot. Those who haven’t paid or aren’t showing an annual pass will be cited $50.
Hood doesn’t have an idea of how much money this will bring in, but he’s hoping for an increase of 10 percent.
Right now, the city is waiting for the custom envelopes to arrive.
Ed Mills, Lodi resident, asked if an exception to the fee could be made for visitors who just want to drive around the park. The answer was no, because the fee is to maintain the roads and parking lots, not for the use of a stall, said City Attorney Steve Schwabauer.
The resolution was approved 4-0. Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce was absent.
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