Year-round light display coming to City Park

PASO ROBLES — The late Paso Robles City Mayor Steve Martin was remembered during a presentation and proclamation at the start of the Paso Robles City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 5. 

Concluding the proclamation, Martin’s successor, Mayor John Hamon, said, “A true friend and advocate of the City of Paso Robles, of his colleagues, and of his family.”

The highly watched and anticipated Downtown Parking Program was up for another vote Tuesday night. A second reading of the updated parking ordinance was read. It was moved from the end of the City Council meeting up towards the top of discussion items.


At the Feb. 20 meeting, the City Council again approved the parking program with a 3-2 vote, with Councilmembers Chris Bausch and Fred Strong dissenting. 

On Feb. 2, the city received a cease-and-desist letter from community member Gary Lehrer. During its Tuesday, Feb. 6, meeting, the council announced that it would be pausing the Downtown Paid Parking Program. At the time, the city’s legal staff announced that the city had received a cease-and-desist letter from Lehrer, who raised concerns regarding modifications to the Paid Parking Program, alleging violations of the Brown Act and other state laws. 

Several residents and business owners came out to the meeting Tuesday night to express their disapproval of the paid parking program.

Part owner of Spare Time Books on 12th Street, Carla Carey addressed the council during public comment, “For those of you who don’t know, my mom and I immigrated here from Romania back in 2001. Romania is a recovering communist country, and they have a very authoritative government that doesn’t listen to the voices of the people. What I want to urge you guys is to listen to the maybe outspoke majority of people who are in favor of no paid parking and to reflect the people that you were elected to represent and not your own personal biases.”

Jennifer Roush Kloth of Park Cinemas added, “In no way do I want anybody to think we are against all parking programs. We are against paid parking programs. We understand that things may need to change. We have been bringing all kinds of options for years. What else can we do other than the program we currently have? The program we have is broken.”

But residents spoke in favor of the paid parking program. Hamon’s wife, Marjorie, took to the podium in support of the program, saying that now without the program in place, there are fewer parking spaces available due to downtown employees taking the parking spots.

“I believe I speak to the and for the silent majority who appreciate having a downtown parking program,” said Marjorie.

Paso Robles and Templeton Chamber of Commerce CEO Gina Fitzpatrick spoke on behalf of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and other businesses and residents who are still supporting the program. She stated that many who are in favor of the program are afraid to voice their opinion.

“The board is still in favor of a parking program. They would like to continue to advocate for two free days and long-term parking solutions such as a parking garage or otherwise,” said Fitzpatrick. “I hope that we can all find a way that we can all get along and we can treat our neighbors as if they are our friends still.”

The new ordinance clarifies that the Downtown Parking Zone includes “the area extending from 10th Street to 14th Street, from Spring Street to Pine Street and the 900 block of both 12th and 13th Streets (from Pine Street to Railroad Street).”

The revised parking ordinance was approved by the council with a 3-2 vote, with Councilmembers Chris Bausch and Fred Strong dissenting — both of them have been against the current parking program since its revival.

With the Tuesday night approval, the city will move forward with paid parking to start on April 5. At that time, parking will cost $1 per hour at minute one.

Additionally, council approved a resolution authorizing a parking permit for resident seniors as well as offering credits or reimbursements to eligible seniors. This motion was approved 4-1 with Bausch dissenting. 

During the Feb. 20 meeting, council directed staff to issue refunds for parking fees within the Downtown Parking Zone between Feb. 6, 2023, and Feb. 6, 2024. Senior permits which are paid through a different method, were approved to receive refunds if they paid during the Feb. 6, 2023, and Feb. 6, 2024, time period.

The city reached an agreement to bring a year-round light display to the City Park. The year-round concept came after the overwhelming positive feedback the city received for the Christmas light display in the park last December. On Feb. 16, the L.A. Christmas Light Installers (LACLI) installed lights in an oak tree behind the Carnegie Library as proof of concept. The proposed light display will include 21 City Park trees. According to staff’s report, depending on tree size and structure, anywhere from 30 to 150 lights will be installed in the designated trees. The estimated costs for the design, materials and installation of the lights is $115,964.85.

The next Paso Robles City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 19, at 6:30 p.m.