Starting in January, parking will be $1 per hour from minute one of each parking session

PASO ROBLES — Changes are again coming to the downtown parking program in Paso Robles. After heavy discussion at the Tuesday, Nov. 21, City Council meeting, councilmembers came to a conclusion for some changes to the program. 

With a 3-2 vote — Councilmembers Chris Bausch and Fred Strong voting no — council approved $1 per hour from minute one of each parking session, and signage and kiosk operations to be improved for clarity. These changes will come to downtown in early 2024. 

The city will also issue unlimited senior parking permits for residents over 65 years old within the city limits for one vehicle per household. All other established terms and conditions will remain in effect for senior parking permits. Senior permit applications are expected to be released in March 2024.

Several members of the public showed and spoke at the meeting, most of which issued their support against the parking program.

Park Cinemas part owner Jennifer Roush Kloth, asked council, “How much time and money are we going into a program that we have continuously proven over the years does not work?”

She continued stating a survey conducted this summer received 520 responses — 360 of which said the program is negatively impacting the Downtown Paso Robles. Another survey conducted this summer over a few months received 223 responses, and 211 also said the parking program does not work.

“Intentions were good, but at some point, everyone needs to accept the fact that the program is not helping our downtown but destroying it,” added Roush Kloth.

Councilman Fred Strong said he has not heard anyone from the public or locals support the parking program.

“It’s not working, and I’m sorry, I don’t think I can support paid parking anymore,” said Strong.

Councilmember Sharon Roden did her own “boots on the ground” research, interviewing people on the street and downtown business owners. She learned that people work their way around the free two hours, inherently hindering the program from paying for itself. Roden proposed the city begin charging for parking at the first hour to pay for the system and give additional funds. 

“I want to light up downtown. I want to light up cross streets. I want to light up Railroad Street,” Roden explained what she would want to do with those extra funds. “I want to put security cameras downtown so that it’s a more safe and more secure area for both tourists and our people.”

Councilman Chris Bausch expressed his concerns with the parking program: “It’s getting difficult for everybody, not just those with families. It’s getting difficult for everyone, and if we stack more problems and more expense, shame on us. We shouldn’t do that.”

After a discussion between the council, it was agreed with a 3-2 vote that beginning in 2024, parking will be $1 per hour from minute one of each parking session, and signage and kiosk operations will be improved for clarity. 

City staff will be working to implement the changes to the parking program over the next several weeks. Additional details and an official start date are expected to be released soon. 

The next regular City Council meeting is on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 6:30 p.m.