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After only one week in effect, the Paso Robles downtown parking program has made an impact. Some uproar, some trepidation, some app downloads, and a whole lotta empty parking spaces are the early indicators — but the longterm effects will be the true test of the success of the new parking program, with great respect to downtown merchants.

Some merchants have taken to social media to express concerns about streets devoid of parked cars, but it may be premature to call down the doom and gloom.

Local residents have also voiced great concern for the program, with questions about how it works, what inconvenience it may pose to them, and consternation about being charged to park in their own downtown.

Paso Robles Magazine headed into downtown to find out for ourselves how it works and what it costs in time and money. It turns out it was a pleasure, and we hope to make the transition for everyone a little easier with a how-to guide.

Here was our experience:

  • 1. Parking was plentiful.About 50-60 percent of spaces were taken, and 40-50 percent were available. We were able to find parking right in front of a kiosk, in easy walking distance to Odyssey World Café.
  • 2. Know your plate. We hadn’t downloaded the iOS or Android app yet (go to to download the app for your device), so we had to head to the monolithic kiosk to enter our license plate number — PASOMAG. If your plate number is not as easy to memorize, write it down or take a photo with your phone.
  • 3. Touch the screen. The touchscreen is pretty easy … but it seemed like the green “Press button to start” button was nonfunctioning, so just touch the screen. From there, enter your plate number, select the time you estimate to use (first two hours is free) and choose whether you want a receipt. You do not need to place the receipt on your dashboard. The system is digital, and the parking attendant will be able to pull up your info. If you are wary about Big Brother knowing your parking habits, just remember that Google has been watching you from above and has compiled years of history of your comings and goings … so this is pretty tame.
  • 4. Pay for overtime. If you stay more than two hours, it is a $1 per hour charge. Most kiosks accept credit card payments. Three stations on Park Street take cash (corners of 11th, 12th and 13th streets).
  • 5. Eat, shop, play! Do what you do and enjoy! Ask about merchant validation if you shop at a store. If you head to Park Cinemas, register inside the theater for an additional free hour of parking.

For a detailed FAQ info sheet for public and employee parking downtown, go to and scroll to the bottom of the home page.

Shopping local, and enjoying downtown can be done with little or no sacrifice. Keep the Pioneer Day spirit alive by supporting our local downtown merchants to help our vibrant community thrive.