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Ride-share drivers ask City of SLO for designated pick up and drop off area along Higuera

Posted at 6:49 PM, Oct 11, 2018

There could be some tougher parking restrictions on the way in downtown San Luis Obispo.

The city wants to make pick-up and drop-off safer for those using ride-sharing services by nailing down a designated area for those services along Higuera Street.

They’re zeroing in on the area from Chorro to Broad.

Jonathon Carroll is a local Uber driver. He says demand is through the roof.

“Upper 20s to 30 calls sometimes on a busy weekend,” Carroll said.

The two-block section of Higuera from Chorro to Broad is a ride-share frenzy, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, but it’s become a safety concern.

“We have to double park in order to drop our patrons off and we have to open up doors into traffic more,” Carroll explained.

He and other drivers are pushing for an area in which they can park without any other parked cars.

“Because no driver, no person, because this is you know, I’m a dad, and I’m in this car and if I hit someone, whether it be them running out, I have to live with that, just as anyone else would,” Carroll said.

The city is looking at some possibilities.

“One of the options that has been requested is considering using all of that parking (along Higuera Street) in an area for Uber and Lyft,” said Tim Bochum, City of San Luis Obispo Deputy Director of Public Works.

The city council has already approved the use of commercial spaces by Uber and Lyft drivers during the day.

“If that dual-use ends up being highly problematic for folks that are needing the commercial loading zone for their traditional purposes, then we’ll have to relook at that as well,” said San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon.

In the meantime, they’re now turning their attention to the late-night crowd.

“We’re still working with the Downtown Association and businesses to see if, in fact, doing all of the street would be what is best or just part of the street,” Bochum said.

Businesses along that stretch of the street have mixed reactions.

“I think the best time for that to happen would be from 10 p.m. to 2 or 3 a.m. because I don’t think it needs to happen at 6 p.m.,” said Jai Kovey, General Manager of Novo Restaurant.

Thirty-five-year business owner Ralph Gorton says he’s been pushing for businesses to stay open later, so taking away parking would be problematic.

“Inconvenient and not necessary I don’t think,” said Gorton of Just Looking Gallery. “I think we made a mistake if we’re going to compromise any parking until we have parking garages built in the community.”

Ride-share businesses are hoping something is done.

“Our job is to get them home safe,” Carroll concluded.

The city says it hopes to come up with a solution within the next couple of months. Officials say it would be enforced through signage.

There is no set date for when this topic will be back on the city council agenda.