Parking is in high demand in the City of Pismo Beach with roughly 2,000 parking spots in the downtown area.
There's free parking at the Addie Street parking lot but the more highly coveted spots will cost $5 per hour.
"It's outrageous," said visitor Mary Koop.
"You have to charge $15 dollars for 3 hours to park here?" questioned another visitor, Kristi Boren. "It's just a little crazy."
Parking is at a premium.
"Honestly, it's really hard to find parking," said local Angela Robles.
In June of 2020, prices were hiked from $2 per hour in the main oceanfront lot to $5 per hour.
"As a result of the impact, we did need to make sure we had circulation," said Jorge Garcia, City of Pismo Beach Management Services Director.
The city says the rates are seasonal, meaning in the slower months, it could be lowered to $2 per hour or as much as $8 per hour in the peak months.
"So if we reach 80 to 85 percent demand in our parking lots, we do increase the parking rates," Garcia explained.
But some visitors say it's just not right.
"Like, if you're coming here to vacation, you know, we spend tons of money at the shops and tons of money at the restaurants. Why? That's not good enough?" Boren said.
"I think it's a fraud to do that when people really want to enjoy Pismo," Koop said.
Others we talked with say they park blocks away to try to snag free parking.
"Everyone kind of already knows where the free parking is so everyone tries to fight for the spots," Robles said.
To address the demand, the city is looking into a surface lot that could create 90 spots or a parking structure with more than 300 spots, but it's being met with opposition by the tenants on the two properties along Main who will need to relocate.
"Right now, we're still negotiating to see if we can come up with an amicable purchase," Garcia said.
The city says in 2019, it generated about $966,000 in parking revenue. In 2020, the city collected about $1 million and this year, it's on track to generate $1.5 million.
Revenues are only used for parking.
"It's making sure that meters are in good repair," Garcia explained. "If we need to buy new meters, if we have maintenance of the surface lots."
The city says it plans to roll out an app this year to help people find parking spots, along with new signage showing how many spots are available.
The city says a parking structure would cost $15 million to $20 million while a new surface lot will be in the range of $750,000.
The city adds that expenditures are about $600,000 a year for parking, including salaries and equipment.