The San Luis Obispo City Council gave the final approval to increase downtown parking meter rates on July 19. The ordinance includes plans to charge $10 a year for residential parking permits in eight neighborhoods and charge for meter parking on Sundays.
The price of meter parking on Higuera Street and the 400 surrounding meters will increase from $1.25 an hour to $1.50 an hour. The new rates will go into effect in the fall, when new credit card meters are installed.
Council member Dan Carpenter said he was not in favor of increasing the hourly rates because he wanted the councilmembers to look into alternative options, such as charging for parking until 7 or 8 p.m. daily, to create additional revenue.
“It’s not fair daytime customers had to pay to park and nighttime customers didn’t have to pay to park,” he said. “Instead of jumping in on that option, I wanted the staff to consider other options.”
Carpenter said he was, however, in favor of charging for parking on Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m.
“It’s fair because people have to pay during the week, so it shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.
This is a result of downtown parking patterns changing in recent years.
“There’s enough activity downtown on Sundays that charging for parking would bring in revenue,” vice mayor John Ashbaugh said.
City officials estimate the rise in hourly meter prices and Sunday parking will bring in $256,000, and the residential parking permits will bring in $15,000 for the 2011-2012 budget.
The eight neighborhoods that now require paid residential permits are: Alta Vista, College Highlands, Ferrini, Murray, Monterey Heights, Park View, Palomar and Tassajara/South Tassajara. Each property owner is entitled to two permits, Ashbaugh said.
Residents in these districts put pressure on the city to enforce parking in the districts, which resulted in $30,000 in revenue from parking violations. On the other hand, it costs $45,000 to carry out the enforcement of citations in this area, Ashbaugh said.
Some of the revenue from the ordinances will finance a potential new $20 million parking structure on Palm and Nipomo streets. The structure is needed because of the proposed China Town and Garden Terrace developments that will be built over parking lots.
However, Peggy Mandeville of transportation planning said the structure might not be necessary.
“We’re not moving full-steam on something that may not be needed,” she said.
If there is a need for more parking in the downtown region, construction on the new structure will begin in approximately a year and a half, Mandeville said. Construction on the project would take a few years.
The structure would incorporate green technology, including but not limited to solar photovoltaics, openings in the structure for natural light and recycled materials, Mandeville said. The structure would provide 400 new parking spaces.