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Paso Robles approves pilot program to ease downtown parking crunch

Posted at 6:38 PM, Oct 17, 2018

Finding a parking spot in downtown Paso Robles can sometimes be a headache, so the city has approved a pilot program to address what it calls a parking shortage.

The city has designated spots for employees. The point of the program is to make more parking available in front of local businesses.

Cindy Karageorge and her husband love to visit the shops in downtown Paso Robles.

“It’s nice to come in and just find a (parking) spot without having to hunt,” Karageorge said.

That’s just one goal of the Employee Permit Pilot Program launching December 1.

Five parking lots scattered throughout the center of town will be reserved.

“We’ve set aside now 150 parking spaces for downtown employees,” said Mayor Steve Martin. “We’ll be using high-tech electronic license plate software to make sure those spaces are used appropriately.”

It’ll cost $5 a month for a permit. It’s a price some workers are willing to pay out of convenience.

“It gives us a designated spot so I think it’s a great thing,” said Monique McGill, server at Marv’s.

The city has gathered public input on how to deal with the parking woes.

“We know this isn’t a complete solution to the parking problem and we are working on other alternatives. There are, for example, private parking lots in the downtown that we’re negotiating with the owners of those lots to see if we can use those during some hours,” Mayor Martin continued.

However, some employees say they already park in the soon-to-be paid lot for free.

“If I had to pay for parking where I do now, I’d just park somewhere else,” said Mario Padilla, Re/Max Marketing Coordinator/Graphic Designer.

Other workers echoed that frustration saying the program is counterproductive and those who park around the park need to be charged.

“But you start charging employees for places they already are parking to help with relieving parking in the downtown core, they’re just going to start parking in the downtown core,” said Elissa Williams, Re-Max Broker-Manager.

The mayor says there are more than 1,000 employees who work in the downtown area.

The program will launch just in time for the holiday shopping season and will run for six months. It will be in effect Monday through Friday during regular business hours.

The pilot program will also serve as a way to gather data on parking patterns in the area.