SLO City Council endorses parking permit fees

July 6, 2011


Despite mounting frustrations over the issuance of residential parking permits, the San Luis Obispo City Council introduced an ordinance amendment Tuesday to establish fees for the permits.

The council voted 4-0 (Mayor Jan Marx abstained because her home is in a permit zone) to charge residents $10 annually for permits, much in part due to a projected $15,000 shortfall in this year’s operating budget for the parking permit program.

If the ordinance amendment passes final adoption at the July 19 council meeting, residents of households in the eight permit zones will be allowed to purchase a maximum of two passes.

San Luis Obispo Parking Services Manager Robert Horch said 1,512 permits will be up for sale. However, Horch estimates a total of 2,832 parking spaces in the permit districts, leaving at least 1,320 spots vacant.

Though the council voted unanimously for the authorization of fees, there was hardly a consensus over whether or not the residential parking permit program should continue to exist.

Council member Dan Carpenter voted for the fees in opposition to residents subsidizing neighbor parking. However, Carpenter said he opposes the permit issuance altogether.

“I’m not a fan of these parking districts,” Carpenter said. “It just pushes the problem to another neighborhood, and I’ve heard it from so many people who have experienced that, and it is really not an ethical thing to do.”

While some speakers during public comment supported the fees and the continuation of permit issuance, the majority did not. A myriad of complaints addressed issues ranging from the frequent production of fraudulent permits to the citation of hospice care providers for parking in the districts.

Some residents, such as Yvonne Printup, live in the permit zones and want them removed.

“The whole neighborhood has suffered,” Printup said. “We have to play musical cars when we take the trash out.”

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I had a chance to talk to Dan Carpenter a few weeks ago, and I was impressed by his comments. There were a number of things I disagreed with him on, and he explained why he voted as he did on those issues very clearly and rationally. Too often I find politicians just falling back on some cliche, talking point, or using straw man arguments… and honestly my spidey sense tells me that generally because they have a hidden agenda or are predisposed to their conclusion. But I did not have that experience at all when talking to him.

What he is quoted as saying in this article reminded me of that conversation. He is a very reasonable, rational individual and if you are looking for someone on the city council to give you real answers, I would encourage everyone to give him a fair listen or explain to him why you disagree so that you can hear his response. He definitely changed my mind on a couple of things where he provided details that were relevant and critical.

Honestly, I don’t know a whole lot about him other than a cursory personal history, and I’m not acutely aware of his prior voting record, I’m just sharing the perception I got from that meeting, in the hopes that it may prove valuable for people that might be looking for actual reasonable people to work with / talk to on local city-related political issues.