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Some say the new parking system in Downtown Paso Robles is driving local residents out of the area

Posted at 9:08 PM, May 14, 2023

Back on March 1st, the Paso Robles City Council approved a new parking plan where visitors have two free hours of parking and then have to pay $2 per hour thereafter.

“That week where there was the turmoil of whether it was going to be free or not. There was mass mayhem out here. People wanted nothing to do with downtown," said Lorri Budd, owner of Dracaena Wines.

Budd said as a business owner it was nerve-wracking to hear that. Now with the new system in place, it’s confusion that lingers with her customers.

“I just think it's very confusing for people right now. There's three different ways to pay, which is fantastic for the different generations. We like to pay different ways, but they don't really understand what happens and are very limited on knowing, well, is it two hours? Do I move the car and it's another two hours, or am I going to get a notification?" added Budd.

When parking downtown, visitors will need to enter their license plate number and start a parking session via a pay station, pay by text, or through the new Flowbird Mobile App.

“I like that it's two hours free," said Paso Robles resident, Maureen Trevisan.

Trevisan said she comes to downtown Paso once a week on average and that having to pay for parking wouldn’t change the number of times she visits the area.

“It's deleterious to our businesses downtown. People don't like this system in the first place. These kiosks are ridiculous. They don't like paid parking. They don't want to deal with it and they're not coming downtown," said downtown resolution committee chairman, John Roush.

As chairman, John Roush is working alongside business owners and residents to come up with resolutions and present them to the city council.

“Our goal is to identify all of the options we have available to us what the city could do, what we want them to do, the stakeholders, the business owners, the landlords, the residents. We want everybody to put in their two cents," explained Roush.

“Everyone wants free. I like the idea of the two hours of free parking because as a business person, people are coming in and they're spending money to help support Paso Robles, and now they might not do that if they then have to pay on top of that," said Budd.

In an email to KSBY, the city manager of Paso Robles said the city is bringing a 90-day review to city council in June.