Free Sunday parking in downtown San Luis Obispo will be extended until January, following a San Luis Obispo City Council vote on raising funds for another downtown parking structure.
This goes against the council’s July decision to have drivers pay from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sundays. The Sunday parking fees were to be enforced starting at the end of August to early September, but the council has been forced to address unforeseen problems before putting the vote into action.
One reason to push charging back to January is that approximately 138 signs and 40 posts will need to be replaced with correct parking information, according to vice mayor John Ashbaugh. The signs must properly display the times that drivers are allowed to park for free, and when they are required to pay, so there isn’t any miscommunication about the new enforcement.
“As it turns out, we have to do a lot more signs,” Ashbaugh said. “We have to fundamentally change the sign posts and the sign copy. Since we added new hours for Sunday parking, that required the sign space to be a little bit larger. In many cases, regarding the posts, it will require digging out concrete and adding new concrete.”
The cost to change all the signs was originally determined to be $11,000 dollars, but after reevaluation of the situation, the price jumped to $102,500, said parking services manager Robert Horch.
“It’s a lot of money to change the signs, but it’s worth changing it,” Horch said. “It’s all about public information, and (the) council approved it. When we start it again, we want to make sure everything is done right before we start enforcing on Sundays.”
Sunday parking fees were originally implemented in order to generate funds for the parking structure that will be built on the corner of Palm and Nipomo streets around the year 2015, Ashbaugh said.
The council decision was approved, Ashbaugh said, despite some community members’ disagreement.
Some of the churches located downtown have expressed concern for Sunday parking fees. Russell Brown of the Mission San Luis Obispo Church said he was concerned at the council meeting that people will essentially have to pay to attend church, but he does feel his needs were addressed.
“The council did listen to our concerns, and parking fees will not be until 1 p.m., and that will meet our basic needs,” Brown said. “It will effect our last mass at 12:45, but if you figure that you get your first hour free, payment won’t kick in until 2 p.m.”
In addition to Sunday parking fee enforcement, meters downtown will also see a 25-cent increase, charging $1.50 an hour instead of the current price, $1.25. This change will not take place until next year as well.