By JOSH FRIEDMAN
The San Luis Obispo City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to double downtown parking rates, effective July 2023.
With plans to build a fourth parking structure, the city had saved approximately $13.9 million from parking fees and expected to save more, but COVID restrictions led to fewer people parking downtown. As a result, the city fell $4 million short in expected parking revenue.
In turn, city staff proposed downtown parking rate increases. Following council approval Tuesday night, the following parking rate increases will take effect in July 2023:
- Two-hour street parking in the main downtown core will increase from $2 an hour to $4 per hour.
- Ten-hour street parking in the outer downtown area will increase from $1.50 an hour to $3 per hour.
- Parking structure rates will increase from $1.50 an hour or $6 maximum daily to $3 per hour or a maximum rate of $12.
Staff had also proposed eliminating the city’s first-hour-free component to parking structure rates, effective July 1, 2022. But, the council voted to delay eliminating the first-hour-free component until July 1, 2023 and to allocate $700,000 from an investment fund to compensate for the revenue the city would have gained by implementing the change next month.
Additionally, the council voted in favor of the following increases in parking and standing fines:
- Non-paid or expired parking tickets to increase from $40 to $45.
- Standing, stopping, or parking within intersection tickets to increase from $40 to $60.
- Standing, stopping, or parking on the roadside of a vehicle stopped, parked, or standing at the curb tickets to increase from $33 to $60.
Many downtown business owners are already struggling in the wake of the pandemic, soaring inflation and rising crime. Business owners have expressed concern the rising parking rates will create further barriers to customers wanting to visit the downtown.
City officials have said they are aware raising rates will be a challenge for many, but they are necessary in order to fund improvements or repairs to existing parking infrastructure.