You may eventually have to pay to park on the Embarcadero in Morro Bay.
The city council is set to review a parking study at its next meeting and paid parking is one recommendation to be considered.
Morro Bay is one of the few cities left on the Central Coast that doesn't charge for parking.
"We went and grabbed taffy today and things like that," said Gilbert Fugitt of San Clemente. "We didn't even have to think about it. We grabbed a spot and ran on in."
There are more than 1,100 parking spaces on the Embarcadero, upwards of 450 spaces downtown, and more than 380 spots at Morro Rock.
A new study conducted from August to November of 2020 reveals that parking is not always convenient and easy to find in the seaside city.
"Today it was quick," Fugitt said. "I know on the weekends it gets a lot more crowded."
The study found that during lunchtime on summer weekends, 86% of spaces are taken on the Embarcadero, in the downtown: 72%, and near Morro Rock: 89% of spots are full.
"When someone parks there for a really long time because there's no cost affiliated with the parking spot, it has a detriment to the businesses that have the parking space right in front," said Cherise Hansson, owner of Under the Sea Gallery.
The city says if it moves forward, it'll most likely tackle the Embarcadero first on a pilot basis.
One recommendation is paid parking between Beach and Marina Streets leaving business owners with mixed reactions.
"If there is paid parking, then it will allow the turnover that businesses need," Hansson said.
"I wouldn't want my customers to have that deterrent of having to pay to park to come and shop in our store," said Kathy Brown, owner of By the Bay Gallery.
The last parking study in Morro Bay was back in 2007 but paid parking never came to fruition.
"We haven't gotten this far before and we are at a point where we need to take the next step or say you know what, we don't want to do this," said Scott Collins, Morro Bay City Manager.
The paid parking pilot program could generate roughly $40,000 to $50,000 or a couple hundred thousand dollars if implemented over the entire waterfront.
"I just don't think it's going to be a good plan for the city," said Francis Connor of Morro Bay. "I think it's going to be more problems than it's worth because it's just not going to generate that much revenue."
"I know I don't like it when I go to other cities and they have paid parking because your mind is always on: do I need to go back and feed the meter or am I over my time?" Brown said.
The city says if this moves forward, the soonest it could be implemented would be in six months to a year.
A discussion with the California Coastal Commission will also be needed.
In the downtown, two-hour time limits are being recommended but the city says it needs to take a closer look at the parking situation at Morro Rock.
To review the city's parking study, click here.
The city council's November 9 meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be held virtually.