By KAREN VELIE
Nearly 1,000 San Luis Obispo City residents have signed a petition rejecting an end to free parking downtown from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The SLO City Council agreed to increase parking rates by 25 cents an hour beginning on July 1, and to end free parking from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 19. The new rates and hours are slated to help pay for a planned $43 million parking garage at Palm and Nipomo streets.
The Change.org petition currently lists 968 signatures. It warns of the problems to small businesses if the city continues to limit free parking.
Dozens of people have shared their reasons for signing the petition, here are a few:
Elisha Hochderffer: “How many businesses downtown have shuttered their doors just in the last year alone?? I guess the city wants to see more closed storefronts, until DT looks like Skidrow. Driving away more people and raising rates is NOT the answer to SLO’s problems. “Pave paradise and put up a parking lot (garage)”. The City Council wants to squeeze every last penny out of us.”
Ashley Riddell: “I work at a downtown restaurant, I have been chased and harassed walking to the garages late at night. It is unsafe.”
Katie Walsh: “I’m a small business owner with an office downtown SLO. We utilize the fact the meter shut off at 6 to deliver packages, move furniture in and out as needed and handle deliveries since it’s easier to not worry about meters during this time and now pay stations. Also, people go to dinner at 6 and now have to move their car and can’t visit another diner for dessert. Meals in the evening can last over two hours. Parking in a structure is encouraged, I understand….but add a small golf cart with 15 or more seats that shuttles people to safety pick up points.”
Hannah Galletti: “I’m a member at a downtown yoga studio and the cost of the membership is already quite high. Even before these increases, parking fees added a minimum of $30/month to my cost to visit the studio, sometimes as much as $50/month. There may be a point where I can no longer afford to be a client at this business because of this added cost. I understand the need to fund projects, but this extreme and sudden increase creates a significant obstacle for people wanting to visit downtown businesses which have already struggled to survive the past year and a half.”