SLO to spend extra $90,000 on new parking signs

October 9, 2011


The San Luis Obispo City Council approved a $91,500 increase in the cost of a parking sign replacement project at its October 4 meeting.

City staffers told the council in July that the project would cost $11,000, but Parking Services Manager Robert Horch said Tuesday that $102,500 must now be allocated from the parking fund to complete the work. Horch said that a heavy workload has been tying down the city streets crew, so the task needs to be contracted out to a private firm for a bid within an engineer’s estimate of $82,000.

Despite staff’s mismanagement of the project, a majority of the city council voted to move forward with the suggestion to contract the parking sign replacement.

Mayor Jan Marx said the new proposal confused and frustrated her, but she voted for it anyway.

“We didn’t get good information in the first place, and now I don’t understand what we are approving,” Marx said. “I’m going to say to staff, “Please don’t ever do this again.”

In voting with Marx, Vice Mayor John Ashbaugh also said he would continue to place faith in city staff to do the job correctly.

“Despite that the initial estimate was incorrect, I continue to have confidence that this estimate will be correct,” Ashbaugh said.

Council member Andrew Carter cast the remaining vote of approval, while Council members Dan Carpenter and Kathy Smith dissented.

As part of the project overhaul, the council also decided to delay implementation of Sunday parking fees until early 2012.


How about this….

The whole idea to charge for Sunday parking is to increase revenue.

What will it cost for the ‘parking police’ (in the golf carts) to patrol and enforce on Sunday… high union wages, benefits, etc!

WHY NOT JUST SLIGHTLY RAISE THE MONDAY – SATURDAY fees equivalent to the expected Sunday revenue.

I bet that woudn’t cost $102,500 !!!!!!!!


We do not shop in SLO much any more because it is a pain to find parking and it costs to spend my money…

This is nothing more than a cash cow for the city. All this talk of not enough money or they have to off set the costs of new signs with higher fees is BS.

The off street parking requirements for businesses downtown can never be met and never has been. Just the number needed for employee parking for the shops downtown is inadequate.

Kevin Rice

>>”why not raise Mon-Sat fees…”

Answer: They did that too. They want Sunday as well.

The strange thing is it’s about raising revenue, but then they go and spend more. So confusing….


I asked Dan Carpenter about this and he had a very reasonable explanation why he voted for the Sunday parking. He turned it around and asked me why people who use parking on Sunday were any different than those who park Monday-Saturday. Why should the latter crowd subsidize the parking. Clearly, you can read a lot of things into this, as I have, and I think it’s a legitimate point.


“very reasonable explanation” indeed.

No reason Sundays should be free.


The city council must think the citizens are the stupidest people ever. The fact that someone like SloRider has to organize people to come to a council meeting to try and talk the city council into saving money is ludicris. The council just told us how broke they are and how grim the future is yet they can increase the budget of a city project that’s going to cost YOU money, by 90K.

When are people going to wake up? SloRider, why don’t you spend your time trying to get these people out of office? In the words of Andrew Carter “if you don’t like what I do, you can vote me out of office”.

They don’t give a siht about your numbers, spreadsheets and ideas about stickers for parking meters. They will contract it out to a company that is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and may them 3 times what it should cost. And they will do it with a smile on their faces and without a second thought.


That’s what happens when money magically appears when you want to spend it. All government is this way. It is not magic, it’s the sweat equity of those NOT in government, but that doesn’t matter. To a governing body, it really does appear like magic! Hey! Look! There’s more money! Ooo, what can we spend it on?

If you’re a judge, you spend it on yourselves, of course. Otherwise, you have to rely on the kick-back, good ol’ boys network… that and union wages.


Where is the priorty?

The city should set up a temporary team and make their own signs (thats what we did 1980 in a government agency).

That money is better off supplementing private business in SLO who are willing to give high school seniors a paid part time job, the purpose would be to help our kids learn and develop responsibility as well as can go on thier resume when applying for a job later.

Otherwise, where is the incentive for kids even go to school anymore, just get a GED?

It seems like the Mayor and city council never had a real job in their life (all born with a silver spoon)


Mayor Jan Marx said the new proposal confused and frustrated her, but she voted for it anyway.

“We didn’t get good information in the first place, and now I don’t understand what we are approving,” Marx said.

SLO, why did you elect this woman mayor?


Because she had a (D) after her name! Duh!


The SLO Mayoral race is nonpartisan. There were no (D)’s or (R)’s or any other letter after anyone’s name. In any case, calling Marx a democrat is an insult to democrats.

The real reason Marx won was that Andrew Farrell split the votes from Paul Brown. Paul Brown was regarded to be the superior candidate and if there was a runoff election (as there should have been because Marx only got 44% of the vote) Paul Brown would have easily won and we would not have the disaster we now have running this city.


Jan Marx is the mayor. Katie Lichtig is the city manager. They are to be held responsible for what happened here. What a mess. Council should drop the Sunday parking fee idea and revisit it later, like once Jan Marx is no longer the mayor.


Next time I’m near Malibu, I’ll see if I can track down Lichtig and let her know there’s trouble in the sticks.

Kevin Rice

I hope a few of you will email the council (see my long post below). The council believes this is a done deal and does not want to revisit it. I think saving $100,000 is worth revisiting. What do you think? Let the council know or they otherwise won’t bother the hassle. Email and show up on Oct. 18. Thanks.


It was first reported that the signs jumped from $11,000 to over $100,00 because of NEW FEDERAL SIGN STANDARDS.

Now it looks like the signs (using the new math):

$102,500 total cost

– $11,000 original estimate

– $82,000 labor from the private company

= $9,500 increase for the new signs that meet federal criteria ($20,500 for the signs alone)

It looks like the $82,000 increase was for LABOR that was originally to part of the day to day of the city street crews but now must be contracted out because they are too BUSY.

And if SLORIDER is right that the $102,500 is for 140 signs then:

$102,500 divided by 140 = $732.14 per sign… PER SIGN!

By the way can someone actually name the PRIVATE FIRM doing the work.

Are they even based in SLO county?

Kevin Rice


The RFP isn’t out for bid yet. There is no private firm yet. And your math is not accurate. Better numbers were in the staff presentation at the council meeting, but you’d have to ask for a copy because it is not in the council staff report:

Kevin Rice

And the federal reflectivity criteria was a ruse. It plays a very tiny part of the increase ($500). The major cost is replacing the sign posts, followed by the huge increase in number of signs–up from 40 to 138 as reported by Parking Manager Robert Horch at Tuesday’s meeting (I previously wrote up from 38 to 140, which is insignificantly different, but incorrect).



If there are 138 (not 140) signs then my math is not accurate…

$102,500 divided by 138 = $742.75 PER SIGN… up $10.60 per sign from my previous post.

The idea that the sign POSTS needs to be replaced is pure ‘pork belly’!

Kevin Rice

Your calculation is good, but the numbers don’t apply the way you present them. First, I don’t think all of the sign posts are the type that need replacing, so, some signs will cost far more to replace. Also, I’m not clear on the material vs. labor breakdown. But if you’re just going for an abhorrent average figure you’ve done well. :)

Mr. Holly

If you owned the business and somebody made that mistake they would be down the road. Keep the old signs they are working. At $102,000 you think they could hire a new employee to take care of this at a much lower cost.

Or better than that let’s get the CalPoly trouble makers to do community service. They do have one of the best engineering schools.

Kevin Rice


The original $11,000 was for 38 new signs.

Staff realized that didn’t include the area around downtown, and that 140 signs are actually affected.

Next, staff realized that adding a line for Sunday hours requires larger signs.

Next, staff realized that larger signs don’t fit inside the city’s “P” posts–thus we have to replace the sign posts to accommodate larger signs. I looked hard for a photo of these “P” posts, and the best image I can find is here:

Next, staff realized that city employees are tied up with other project and so we need to hire-out the job to an outside contractor.

City council voted to go ahead with the $102,500 expense (Marx, Carter, Ashbaugh — while Kathy Smith and Dan Carpenter voted not to go ahead).



(1) Drop the proposed Sunday meter hours; or,

(2) Make Sunday hours the same as Mon to Sat — by doing so, all the city needs to do is cover up the “Except Sunday” on the signs (a few dollars instead of $100K). As a concession, the parking structures could be made free for all day Sunday or Sunday morning. Hence, locals could find a place to park and spend Sunday mornings downtown, and tourists wanting “premium” spaces would use the meters.

Simple solution, and saves $100,000.

If you think #1 or #2 is a good idea, then EMAIL THE COUNCIL!!! I will be pushing for #2 at the 10/18 meeting (Hint: Council wants Sunday hours so #1 is not likely, but we don’t have to spend this amount of money!!!)

Kevin Rice

Anyone wishing to support my #2 alternative (or that has other ideas), please contact me: 602-2616 or send me an email via

We CAN save SLO taxpayers $100K!


You page is not working. Hitting Send does nothing.

Kevin Rice

It works. Page feedback could be better, but it should say “Your message was sent” next to the send button after clicking.


So did you receive like 20 copies of my message? lol

Kevin Rice

Two. At least I think I did. If you received a reply from me then I received your message. Otherwise, try “kevin@” followed by “” (extra text to foil spam bots).