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San Diego’s Westfield UTC Mall Will Charge For Parking Beginning Next Week

The Westfield UTC sign appears in this undated photo.

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: The Westfield UTC sign appears in this undated photo.

When you go to the mall, you expect to park for free for as long as you like. But that's not going to be the case at San Diego's Westfield UTC mall.

Westfield UTC has announced it will begin charging for parking on Jan. 30. Some would say it's a strange move in a time when malls compete with online shopping, and they're doing all they can just to get people in the door.

But Miro Copic, a business lecturer with San Diego State University, said UTC is different. It's pretty upscale, for one, and it's just added 400,000 new square feet of retail and restaurants. He added that their $2-an-hour charge only kicks in for customers after two hours of free parking.

"And their studies show that 85 percent of consumers stay less than two hours," said Copic. "So it's not going to affect the vast majority of people."

Copic said the parking charge is aimed mostly at non-customers who use their parking garage.

"Number one are people who park in the mall and then go to other buildings nearby that do charge for parking. So they don't want people to use them as a free lot," he said. "Also when that trolley line gets completed, they don't want people just parking at the mall, taking the trolley to some other place and then coming back."

The new Mid-Coast Trolley, which will serve UTC, is expected to open in two years.

Copic said the biggest hardship created by the parking fee may be for store employees, who will also have to pay to park. The UTC mall is encouraging their retail tenants to help their workers pay for parking.

When you go to the mall, you expect to park for free for as long as you like. But that's not going to be the case at San Diego's Westfield UTC mall.

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