The City of San Luis Obispo is working to find out how to improve parking and accessibility downtown.
Anyone who lives, works in, or visits Downtown SLO knows that it can be tricky to find a parking spot.
The city is now looking to improve the situation by reimagining the future of the downtown area.
“We hope to identify the needs regarding access and mobility and how parking plays a role in those needs,” said SLO parking program manager Gaven Hussey.
The goal is to ensure there are enough parking spots for locals and visitors while also working to make downtown safer for both pedestrians and bicyclists.
“SLO is on the leading edge of providing opportunities for its citizens both in town and outside of town to be able to come in and enjoy an environment that isn’t necessarily car-centric and that’s what I’m looking for,” said Stephen J, who joined the virtual town hall and is considering moving to San Luis Obispo.
The city is building protected bike lanes while working to expand sidewalks.
A permanent parklet program for outdoor dining will also be finalized this Fall.
To improve parking, the city is moving forward with construction of a fourth downtown parking garage.
“We’re doing site prep and demo for the building this coming Spring with vertical construction beginning next Fall of 23,” said Hussey.
The five-story parking structure will bring more than 400 additional parking spots to the corner of Palm Street and Nipomo Street.
It is estimated to cost more than $50 million. The city recently increased parking rates to help pay for the structure and it’s expected to open in the Winter of 2025 and 2026.
The city has also hired a consulting firm to look into street parking availability.
“What we did find was that parking demand is somewhat unbalanced across downtown,” said Chrissy Mancini Nichols with Walker Consultants.
Survey results provided by the firm show that there is still available parking even during the busiest times-- you just have to walk further.
“There is some available parking, it may just not be intuitive to find,” said Nichols. “Even during farmer’s market when it feels quite full, there are spaces in the garages.”
The city is working with the consulting firm to even out parking demand. One possibility is lowering parking rates on the outskirts of downtown.
“It’s possible to lower the cost of parking at the perimeter on those block bases that are under-parked,” said Jonathan Wicks with Walker Consultants.
The updated plan is expected to be finalized in the spring and the city will continue to gather input from the public.
This is the first time that the city has updated its parking plan in more than a decade.