City looks at potential water conservation mandate from state

PASO ROBLES — A water resource and conservation update was provided at the April 19 Paso Robles City Council meeting. The update covered water conservation mandates, water supply, and demand projections. 

According to City Manager Ty Lewis, “There are sufficient water supplies available to provide for all the city’s current needs.”

Currently, Lake Nacimiento is at 27 percent capacity. City staff does not predict a water shortage for city customers. 

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

In 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the State Water Resource Control Board (SWRCB) to consider adopting emergency regulations by May 25, 2022. This executive order would require the city to reduce water use by 20 percent. It would also consider a ban on irrigation of non-residential ornamental turf and require water use to be reported.

According to Lewis, if the conservation mandate follows through, the city will comply with the minimum conservation requirements:

  • Implement a three-day per week watering schedule
  • Prohibit landscape watering from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Prohibit landscape watering 48 hours following rain
  • Repair leaks within five days

Two parking downtown Paso parking lots will be getting a facelift. The parking lot behind Marv’s Pizza on 12th Street and the parking lot on Railroad and 12th Street will be upgraded and refurbished. 

Upgrades include street lighting, drainage, maximizing parking spaces, improving traffic circulation, improve ADA spaces and alleys.

Councilman John Hamon questioned improving the parking lot on Railroad and 12th Street due to the potential of a parking structure built there. 

“I’m always hesitant about putting a lot of money into something that’s going to get torn up fairly soon, hopefully, two, three years out,” Hamon explained.

In the end, council unanimously agreed to enter into an agreement with Cannon Corp to prepare design documents to refurbish the parking lots in the amount of $93,000.

Lewis, Assistant City Manager Chris Huot, and Administrative Services Director Ryan Cornell presented a preliminary budget overview for fiscal years (FY) 2022-23 and 2023-2024.

The full budget overview can be found here.

A budget workshop is scheduled for the week of May 9 (schedules permitting). The workshop will include:

  • Department budgets with supplemental requests
  • Enterprise Funds review
  • Full capital improvement plan review
  • Further analysis or evaluation of City Council feedback

Councilman Steve Gregory motioned to bring the report back to the council with more detail for the reorganization of the city to understand direct lines of communication, economic development, and an airport category. City Council approved the preliminary budget overview with a 5-0 vote.

City staff requested direction from council for generating city revenue. Hamon asked to discuss increasing the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). The TOT is a 10 percent tax charged to occupants in any hotel in Paso Robles.

Hamon explained, “To me, that’s going to be the least impactive of our Roblans to be able to generate additional revenue.”

Gregory and Councilwoman Maria Garcia agreed with Hamon, saying the TOT is a clean and straightforward way to bring income to the city. 

Gregory then motioned to approve a one-cent TOT increase based on improvements for downtown and tourist-related costs to improve our community from the tourism. The motion passed unanimously with a 5-0 vote.

Improvements would include parking and enhancing downtown Paso. The TOT tax increase would be added to the general election ballot for voting in November.

The May 3 city council meeting has been canceled. The next meeting is scheduled for May 17 at 6:30 p.m.