Starting in July, the city of San Luis Obispo is increasing rates and expanding hours for parking spots downtown.
But residents and local business owners alike are concerned that paying more for parking will do more harm than good during a time of financial uncertainty.
“Extending [parking rates] just seems like they’re trying to raise revenue, which is what it is,” said San Luis Obispo resident Al Daily.
One of the biggest changes for parking downtown is the removal of free parking after 6:00 p.m.
Here are the new parking rules:
Effective July 1, 2021:
- Parking garage rates are as follows:
- Hourly rate: $1.50 (first 60 minutes free)
- Max daily rate: $6 (including Sundays)
- Lost ticket fee: $6
- Overnight parking rate: $15
Effective July 19, 2021:
On-street and lot enforcement hours will be Monday - Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (including holidays).
Loading zone parking after 6:00 p.m. will now require payment at a pay station.
On-street and lot rates are as follows:
- Tier 1 rate zone: $2/hr
- Tier 2 rate zone: $1.75/hr
- Tier 3 rate zone: $1.25/ Hr
“No one’s excited about having to pay for an additional three hours of parking downtown, especially after the economic realities of the last year and a half,” said Sidecar Co-Owner Josh Cristensen.
The city of San Luis Obispo’s Parking Program Manager, Gavin Hussey, said the reason for transitioning hours is to increase the turnover for on-street parking spots, and align the hours of on-street and off-street operations.
“On street parking is primarily meant for people who are coming and going and have shorter transactions. And we want people who have longer transactions, and are working Downtown, to park in the parking structures,” Hussey said.
Business owners are concerned, however, about their employees' safety if they park in structures instead.
“The parking garages are far more secluded and covered," said Christensen. He adds "I just talked to my female employees today and they don’t feel safe going to parking structures late at night.”
To ensure the safety of those working Downtown, the city says they’ve contracted a security company and will have evening enforcement officers to patrol parking structures. Still, local businesses also worry about their revenue.
“I am concerned that it may prevent people coming to Downtown and spending [at] our businesses,” said chef and owner of Mitsura, Nicola Allegretta.
The city of San Luis Obispo said these increased parking fees and hours won’t likely deter patrons from coming to downtown San Luis Obispo, because they’ve already seen revenues from parking meters bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.
“We are seeing in parking the exact same utilization rates that we did prior to the pandemic,” said Hussey.
By August, the city is also looking to launch multiple mobile apps, like ParkMobile, Pay By Phone and Park Me as new means to pay for parking.