Overstaying your welcome at Newport Beach’s electric vehicle charging stations may soon become a little pricier as the city looks to implement an overstay charge for cars that remain plugged in.
As part of a larger fee study, the City Council voted on March 9 to introduce an ordinance that would implement a surcharge of $.10 per minute following a 10-minute grace period that will be capped at $61 for vehicles that remain plugged in even after charging is complete. The council will be considering adoption of that ordinance at their next meeting, set for Tuesday.
If approved, the surcharge will be effective beginning April 22.
The charge, city staff said, is to encourage turnover of vehicles at the stations strewn throughout the city. Staff said in a report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting that the current fiscal impact of the new fees is unknown at this time as there is limited information on the issue. The report adds that it is likely user behavior will shift.
The city installed electric vehicle charging stations throughout Newport Beach in 2018. At a rate of about $1.85 to $2.10 per session, residents and visitors can charge their cars at the Newport Beach Civic Center, Marina Park Community and Sailing Center, the OASIS Senior Center and the Newport Beach Community Center.
Deputy public works director Jim Houlihan said there are currently 23 charging stations that Newport Beach operates and four fast-chargers that are operated independently under city contract.
The city previously did not have an overstay charge, but those that did were subject to a potential $61 parking ticket if the vehicle was unplugged or blocking access to a charging station.
Newport Beach resident Michelle McNamara said the addition of a surcharge isn’t new to people who have been using ChargePoint charging stations like she does for her Tesla.
The city uses EVgo, a charging network based in Los Angeles.
McNamara said she largely uses the charger provided by her employer, but that she used to have a Fiat before moving to Newport Beach. She said she relied on charging her car at work to make it back to her old home in Santa Ana, but that she would sometimes see fully charged vehicles hogging up the stations available.
“One time, I went as far as to unplug another car when they were full. I left them a note and they left me a note. I’ve gotten notes about it like ‘Hey, your car is done. Can you move it?’” McNamara said.
“I think [moving your charged vehicle is] a courteous thing to do,” McNamara added. “There’s apps that let you know when it’s going to be fully charged and you should plan ahead to move your vehicle. There’s not an unlimited amount of charging stations and until we get to that point, we have to play nice and share. If you don’t want to get charged, move your car.”
McNamara said that because she works and lives in Newport Beach, she doesn’t often need to charge her car but feels that there should be charging stations more thoughtfully planned out in the city.
Nicole Dishon, also of Newport Beach, owns a Tesla that she jokingly calls the “Stressla” when she’s running low on a charge. She agrees with McNamara and said she feels the surcharge is a good idea to encourage people to move their cars when they’re fully-charged.
Dishon said that overcrowding at charging stations was a major problem when she was in the process of moving because she’d have trouble finding somewhere to charge her own car — a problem that she’s since resolved by having a charging station at her home.
“I know that when I have friends traveling, they’re looking for spots to plug [the cars] in,” Dishon said. “I leave mine plugged in at home. But I know when I’m out and about, it’s nice to have charging systems around because there aren’t very many.”