Downtown parking will remain two hours free and $2 after that

PASO ROBLES — On Saturday, April 9, Paso Robles City Council held an informational workshop with the downtown parking advisory committee. After a thorough discussion, council voted 3-2 to maintain the current parking program.

The vote included the Senior Parking Permit program that was already approved during the March 15 meeting. Starting March 28, the City began offering 500 annual Senior Downtown Parking Permits for $30.

To start the meeting, the council and the Downtown Parking Advisory Commission (DPAC) received a presentation on potential changes to the paid parking program.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

Originally, city staff recommended council modify paid parking rates by removing the two-hour free parking and changing the hourly rate to $2 per hour. Along with the rate chance, staff recommended adding more 30-minute short-term parking spaces at the end of each block.

Other suggested changes included local residential pricing or tiered pricing, or developing a parking validation system.

“This is frightening and completely unexpected,” John Roush of Park Cinemas movie theater said. “We must ask ourselves, what’s next?”

The Park Cinemas has an arrangement with the city to offer three free hours of parking to moviegoers. Roush claimed increasing parking rates would affect his theater and visitors downtown. He also asked the city to take a deeper look into building a parking structure or district to alleviate parking in Downtown Paso.

Roush, who is also the downtown parking commissioner, was asked to resign his position as part of the parking advisory commission for the remainder of the meeting due to a conflict of interest between parking and his movie theater. He agreed to resign with no objections.

Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin allowed Roush to continue his comments. Roush asked the council to stop “kicking the can down the road” for building a structure or district as prices continue to increase for supplies and spaces are becoming limited.

Building a parking structure or district has been brought up when discussing parking in the downtown area in many prior discussions.

Paso Robles City Councilman John Hamon suggested decreasing the free parking time to one hour and charging $1 per hour after that, “The way our rates are right now, we’re not meeting our goal of 85 percent occupancy. In other words, it’s too cheap.”

In the end, City Council voted 3-2, with Steve Gregory and Hamon voting no, in favor of keeping parking rates as they are, with the first two hours free and $1 per hour after that. 

Additionally, the council directed staff to explore funding for a parking structure, tiered parking rates, a parking district, or a potential General Obligation Bond. The parking program will be reviewed again in six months.

The Downtown Parking Update presentation is available online.

The next regular City Council meeting is on Tuesday, April 19, at 6:30 p.m.