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Fact Check: Convention Center Parking Isn't Best in West

A local union leader called the Convention Center’s new higher parking rate “the best deal on the West Coast right now.” But Portland, Anaheim and sometimes Los Angeles have lower rates.

Image: FALSEStatement: “Fifteen dollars is more than reasonable [for parking at the Convention Center]. It’s the best deal on the West Coast right now,” Chester Mordasini, president of  Teamsters Local 911, which represents San Diego port workers, said at a budget workshop, according to U-T San Diego.

Determination: False

Analysis: Finding cheap parking in downtown San Diego is no easy task, with many parking garages charging $20-$30 daily. Some rates are as high as $45 and $60 for nine hours of parking on a weekday, according to sandiego.bestparking.com.

This made the San Diego Convention Center parking lot’s daily rate of $10 an excellent deal, especially considering its convenient location under the center and the fact that it’s steps away from the restaurants and nightlife of the Gaslamp Quarter.

But the great $10 rate disappeared on June 7, when Unified Port of San Diego — which manages the Convention Center — boosted the daily parking price to $15 as part of a series of moves designed to cut costs and raise revenue.

Chester Mordasini, president of Teamsters Local 911, which represents San Diego port workers, sought to prevent layoffs and liked the idea of raising the parking rate, according to a May 26 article in U-T San Diego. The paper reported Mordasini said this at a budget discussion: “Fifteen dollars is more than reasonable. It’s the best deal on the West Coast right now.”

Mordasini’s claim is important because raising the parking rate comes with the risk that the port could lose revenue overall if enough people choose to not park there. There’s also a chance, however small, that the level of the parking rate could affect decisions by event planners about whether to hold events there.

His claim might have also helped persuade port officials that the $10 rate was too low.

Mordasini didn’t return several messages seeking comment, although a woman who answered the phone at his office last week said he was working. For that reason, we cannot be sure what he means by “the best deal on the West Coast right now.”

But it’s safe to assume he’s talking about parking rates at other major West Coast convention centers. Outside of San Diego, the largest ones are in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim. We contacted each one and asked about parking rates at their convention center lots.

The Moscone Center in San Francisco has no on-site parking; parking at the Los Angles Convention Center is variable at $12-$20 per day.

For the other convention centers, we calculated the parking rate for 12 hours, an appropriate amount of time for a conference attendee to attend a day’s events.

The 12-hour weekday rates are: $20 (San Jose Convention Center), $19 (Washington State Convention Center in Seattle), $12 (Anaheim Convention Center) and $9 (Oregon Convention Center in Portland).

Two of those rates, in Anaheim and Portland, are cheaper than the new rate at the San Diego Convention Center. While the Portland center has less space overall than San Diego’s, making it less than a perfect comparison, the Anaheim center is larger and nearly wooed the hugely popular Comic-Con International from our city’s facility.

Two top West Coast convention centers — plus the one in Los Angeles, at least at certain times — charge less for parking than San Diego’s convention center now does. For that reason, Mordasini’s claim is false.

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and vice president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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