Paso Robles City Council approves employee permit parking program

A little more than a month ago after hitting an unexpected snag, City Council said it was going to do something about parking. Council followed through Tuesday night, Oct. 16, and unanimously approved, 5-0, an employee parking permit pilot program. The 6-month pilot launches Nov. 1 with implementation set for Dec. 1.

Six-month pilot launches Nov. 1 with implementation set for Dec. 1 in Paso

PASO ROBLES — A little more than a month ago after hitting an unexpected snag, City Council said it was going to do something about parking.

Council followed through Tuesday night, Oct. 16, and unanimously approved, 5-0, an employee parking permit pilot program. The 6-month pilot launches Nov. 1 with implementation set for
Dec. 1.

Prior to approving the permit program, council first approved, 5-0, updates and revisions to its parking ordinance.

“The ordinances haven’t been updated for several decades,” said Julie Dixon, principal consultant with Dixon Resources Unlimited. “It’s just building that foundation for the program to be built upon.”

The employee permit pilot program also received the go-ahead from two major city stakeholders — the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Paso Robles Main Street Association.

The belief following a months-long parking study process by DRU is that the lack of parking in the downtown core is due in part to employees taking up valuable store-front parking.

The goal of this program is to free up close proximity downtown street parking for customers visiting downtown by incenting employees to park in lots outside of the downtown core.

“We are trying to encourage compliance. We are trying to influence and change behavior throughout Paso,” Dixon said.

The basics of the program include the city selling 150 virtual employee parking permits for $5 per month. Due to the early interest in the program, the City Council increased the amount of permits to be sold from 75 to 150 to allow the City to be responsive to demand.

The permit offers “guaranteed” parking in one of five public parking lots — Spring Street lot, 12th Street lot near Marv’s Original Pizza, City Hall/Library lot, Pine Street lot, which is currently reserved for bus parking, and the Railroad Street lot — off of the downtown square.

Within each lot there will be designated parking reserved only for permit holders Monday through Friday during yet to be determined hours.

“A lot of time and energy went into this; a lot of feedback from the community,” Dixon said. “This program was designed to fit Paso. I have never had a project quite like this one in any other community.”

Between now and implementation, the City will be cleaning up the lots and making other improvements such as lighting.

“We know we are going to have to do lighting and improvements fast,” said Dick McKinley, Director of Public Works.

The city will utilize license plate recognition technology and an online portal for permit holders to conveniently manage their use of the program.

Council at the public’s urging made the lack of parking in the downtown corridor a priority this year. The City brought in Dixon Resources Unlimited to conduct a parking study.

Dixon presented her team’s findings and in August council approved moving forward with the near-term measures.

The near-term measures include: identifying employee parking locations, improved signage, baseline data collection utilizing license plate recognition (LPR) technology, safety improvements, and ordinance updates to allow for these and other actions.

About a month ago, council was set to update its parking ordinance so it could then act on the near-term measures, but had to regroup after receiving some pushback from the Downtown Paso Robles Main Street Association.

Council appointed an ad hoc committee to meet with the downtown group and set a deadline of 45 days to work out the sticking points of the ordinance.

Over the past 30 days, additional meetings were held with downtown stakeholders.

The cost to the City during the duration of the pilot program was estimated at $10,000, which covers the technology and support services.

Post-pilot the costs were estimated at $21,000 to purchase the equipment and another $6,000 to cover annual fees. If the City sells 100 permits a month at $5 per permit for an entire year it would generate enough to cover the annual fees.

Funds were set aside in the City budget to cover parking-related costs.

Through monthly updates to council, the City will be able to make adjustments to the program and look at what else needs to be done long term.

“The data collection that we are going to gather throughout this pilot program is going to very important for the ongoing analysis and decision-making process for the next steps for the city,” Dixon said.

Downtown businesses or employees may reserve a parking permit by calling the City Manager’s Office at 805-237-3888.

SHORT -TERM RENTALS

Prior to adjourning Tuesday’s meeting, short-term rentals was raised by Councilmember Fred Strong, who said he’d been contacted by people who were selling their Paso Robles homes so they could get away from neighboring STRs.

The idea of putting a moratorium in place for STRs was floated but did not gain traction after Councilmembers Steve Gregory, John Hamon and Mayor Steven Martin said they were not in favor of the it.

Within the past two months, council gave recommendations and directed staff to bring back an ordinance that addresses STRs in the city. City Manager Tom Frutchey said it needed to go through a short-term rental committee and the planning commission before it comes back to the council sometime after the first of the year.

ADDITIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

Bank of America Easement — accepted the Grant of Easement for Pedestrian Sidewalk Public Access by Bank of America, National Association, and authorized the City Manager to sign and record the Grant of Easement.

Speed Survey and Limits Adjustments — accepted the completed a speed zone survey and authorized the update and enforcement of posted speeds accordingly. The study recommends increasing the speed limit on one segment of road and the decrease of speed limits on nine segments of roads.

Employee Retirement Contract Amendments — approved a resolution with requisite certifications to amend the City’s CalPERS contract. The contract amendment will allow for MGMT “police safety” and “fire safety” employees to begin contributing an additional three percent towards retirement contract costs as authorized by Government Code section 20516, Employee Cost Sharing

Ramada Road Paving Partnership — directed the City Manager and City Attorney to finalize an improvement/reimbursement agreement with Firestone Walker, Inc., utilizing funds already approved for this project to reimburse Firestone Walker for those amounts not being invested by Firestone Walker and other businesses along Ramada Drive for up to $379,000 of total project costs. The poor condition of Ramada Drive and Vendels Circle is demonstrably hurting businesses in the area, by discouraging visitors and presenting poorly. Unfortunately, even given its low PCI rating, Ramada Drive is still not able to be scheduled for a complete reconstruction over the next 6 years, due to lack of funds. Adam Firestone, co-director of Firestone Walker, has proposed a unique public-private partnership approach to repairing sections of Ramada Drive and Vendels Circle. This approach has the potential to significantly reduce the City’s costs and accelerate work on street segments badly needing repair.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6 in Council Chambers, 1000 Spring St.

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