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Paso Robles City Council to consider changes to downtown parking fees

Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce wants to hear from you
Posted at 3:58 PM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 22:30:20-04

The days of scoring two free hours of parking in downtown Paso Robles may be coming to an end.

"My husband and I were just downtown the other day and commented how great it is that the first two hours are free," said Toni Ries of San Miguel.

Currently, it's one dollar an hour after those first two free hours between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., daily.

The city council is now set to consider charging drivers $2 per hour, eliminating the free parking.

"Because I'm a tourist, I don't mind paying for the city," said Jesse Cooper of Los Angeles. "I'm going to walk around. I'm going to be here for at least two hours, dining, buying things, helping out economies anyway, so I think the extra couple of bucks, I don't think will hurt me."

However, the city says that almost 90% of those who park in the downtown area are leaving before their two hours are up, meaning the program hasn't made revenue from roughly 600,000 drivers in two years.

"One of the council's goals was to be revenue-neutral by five years," said Commander Caleb Davis of the Paso Robles Police Department.

The program was created in 2018 to create turnover. But if it continues as is, the city says it'll have a negative balance of $1.6 million in five years.

If the proposed changes are made, the program could generate approximately $1.5 million over the same time.

The owner of a downtown bookstore tells KSBY that although his out-of-town sales have more than tripled, he does not support the potential changes.

"For them to have to pay two dollars just to park to visit Paso Robles, I don't think that's right," said Albert Farrens, owner of Spare Time Used Books.

Some have taken to social media with one business owner saying the parking rules have been killing them.

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Other locals said that they avoid the downtown altogether.

Paso Downtown Parking 1.png

Meanwhile, the city council is also set to consider adding some additional 30-minute parking spots around the downtown that would be free.

"So again, increasing the short-term locations like 30 minutes by potentially putting them on every block," Commander Davis explained.

The city says that once the program achieves cost neutrality, revenues will go toward downtown improvement projects like repaving parking lots, lighting, a shuttle program, and possibly, a parking garage.

"We need more parking spaces, definitely," said Janet Davalos, head manager of Vic's Café.

The city council will be making a decision on Tuesday night. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

During the meeting, changes to the senior parking permit program for those 65 and older are also set to be discussed including residency requirements and limiting the number of permits issued.

There are 466 parking spots in the downtown area.