The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to amend some of the fees included in the city’s master schedule, some of which will impact parking, library and airport fees.
The city has a log of hundreds of fees ranging from pollution abatement to parking meter removal fees, but only a few were impacted by the vote Tuesday night. In total, four city departments requested 30 changes and eight fee deletions from the city’s books.
Adjustments included charges for renting library rooms in both the new Michelle Obama Library ($50-$70 per hour for business and non-business hours respectively) as well as the main library which decreased its charges from $100 and $160 to match that of the library in North Long Beach.
Parking rates in city lots in downtown will now range from $45-$80 per month depending on which lot a person parks in and whether the pass is for day or night time parking. The lots affected by the changes to the master fee schedule include the Promenade lot (between 3rd Street and Broadway), the City East lot (Broadway and Long Beach Boulevard), the M-1 lot (Long Beach Boulevard and Alta Way) and the American Hotel parking lot.
The council reduced some fees at the airport including the landing fees and terminal building gate use and common use charges, all of which declined by less than 50 cents. However, the charge for a monthly parking pass at the airport as well as fees associated with passenger pick ups and drops offs all increased.
Fee deletions were constrained to the library and revolved around charges for media use like DVDs or CDs and charges collected for the use of coffee urns. The changes are expected to generate about $1.3 million in new revenue for the city.
The bulk of the conversation focused on the transportation network company (TNC) pilot program that was set to start today at Long Beach Airport (LGB) which would allow rideshare companies like Lyft, Uber and See Jane Go pick-up and drop-off customers curbside at the airport.
Long Beach Airport Director Jess Romo said the city’s decision to charge a $3 fee for both drop-off and pick-up was based on a study of competitor airports in the state which had fees ranging from $2-$5, adding that the $3 charge was a good price point that would help with cost recovery.
“With this research, we believe that the three-dollar fee for pick-up or drop-off is appropriate,” Romo said. “What this is doing is it’s helping us continue to diversify the revenue that is required at the airport. The more money that we make on programs like this the less we have to rely on other funding sources, specifically passenger facility charges which are entirely driven by activity at the airport.”
However a representative from Lyft said that they hadn’t returned an offer sheet to participate in the six-month pilot program because they feared it would be setting a bad precedent with the double-sided fee structure in place.
“Just a point of clarification, all airports do have a trip fee where we’re permitted, but some of them don’t have both a pick-up and a drop-off fee, especially airports this size,” the representative said using San Diego, Burbank and San Jose Airports as examples of locations that have one fee. “So, what we’re asking for is for the pilot to begin to gather this data to then determine a more permanent fee structure. It’s not Lyft and Uber that pays these fees, it’s the customers themselves.”
Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price questioned staff over whether the pilot program should wait to determine such fees charged to TNC operators until after the pilot had concluded since the point of the program was to collect data and assess what the impact was of letting TNCs operate at the airport.
Fifth District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo pointed to projected declines in parking revenues, not all attributed to TNC patronage, as an impetus to seek out revenue streams at the airport to keep LGB on sound economic footing. She noted that every time someone doesn’t drive to the airport it takes away potential parking fees that would have otherwise been paid.
“People are using other transportation, people are not parking at the airport as long, the destinations have changed, they’re not going away for as long,” Mungo said. “We never want to put ourselves in the red, we don’t want to create new fees if we don’t have to but I think that with the pilot program in mind if we can have the staff keep in mind the bottom line, that’s important to our community so that we have a safe and stable airport.”
The motion to approve the master fee schedule changes passed 8-0.