San Luis Obispo residents protest reduced free parking hours

July 12, 2021


Nearly 1,000 San Luis Obispo City residents have signed a petition rejecting an end to  free parking downtown from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The SLO City Council agreed to increase parking rates by 25 cents an hour beginning on July 1,  and to end free parking from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 19. The new rates and hours are slated to help pay for a planned $43 million parking garage at Palm and Nipomo streets.

The petition currently lists 968 signatures. It warns of the problems to small businesses if the city continues to limit free parking.

Dozens of people have shared their reasons for signing the petition, here are a few:

Elisha Hochderffer: “How many businesses downtown have shuttered their doors just in the last year alone?? I guess the city wants to see more closed storefronts, until DT looks like Skidrow. Driving away more people and raising rates is NOT the answer to SLO’s problems. “Pave paradise and put up a parking lot (garage)”. The City Council wants to squeeze every last penny out of us.”

Ashley Riddell: “I work at a downtown restaurant, I have been chased and harassed walking to the garages late at night. It is unsafe.”

Katie Walsh: “I’m a small business owner with an office downtown SLO. We utilize the fact the meter shut off at 6 to deliver packages, move furniture in and out as needed and handle deliveries since it’s easier to not worry about meters during this time and now pay stations. Also, people go to dinner at 6 and now have to move their car and can’t visit another diner for dessert. Meals in the evening can last over two hours. Parking in a structure is encouraged, I understand….but add a small golf cart with 15 or more seats that shuttles people to safety pick up points.”

Hannah Galletti: “I’m a member at a downtown yoga studio and the cost of the membership is already quite high. Even before these increases, parking fees added a minimum of $30/month to my cost to visit the studio, sometimes as much as $50/month. There may be a point where I can no longer afford to be a client at this business because of this added cost. I understand the need to fund projects, but this extreme and sudden increase creates a significant obstacle for people wanting to visit downtown businesses which have already struggled to survive the past year and a half.”


Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
kevin rise

I thought most people here on this forum HATE free handouts and say it’s Marxist or socialist, lol. Sigh.


You would be correct except for the fact that those of us who pay the lion share of taxes (about 49 percent) and also contribute economically via local taxes and fees, feel we have already paid for parking. Therefore, for SOME of us on this forum it is not a “handout.”

But I’m glad you are watchful of Marxist ideology creeping in. It’s unfortunate that our president and the left wing of his party, that has him in an ideological headlock, is not.


One more nail in the coffin for downtown businesses. More money to pay for parking = less customers=less sales tax=less revenue. The council and city staff with all their wisdom need to look elsewhere to fund their pet projects, and instead encourage patronage to the downtown core. All parking downtown should be FREE !!!


Well I agree that especially given the economic downturn and unknowns this is not wise and amounts to another poor decision by our current mayor and council. However, all parking should not be “free” as you say. Nice things cost money. Instead, paid parking should be reasonably priced and moreover, consumers should have a plethora of choices between paying for convenience or walking a few blocks for free, etc.


Someone needs to pay for the city employee’s inflated salaries and pensions.

Jorge Estrada

Because of COVID many city employees need to work from home and the cost of Cityhood continues to go up.The City must fund many ongoing service expenses that require continued revenue increases. Parking fees or parking tickets are usually least toxic as they usually affect a minority in the voter head count, this is the democracy we all want, right? Big box stores and large parking lots are where we spend our dollars and the downtown merchants have become a boutique, luxury form of commerce and are now having to be subsidized due to their under performance in sales taxes.

Michael Stove

There are plenty of low tax, zero character, strip mall infused wastelands in this huge country that you can move to. Stop complaining about what a majority of citizens like (as shown in their voting records to put people in charge to do this type of governance) and find somewhere that makes you happy.


This is an absolutely brain-dead boondoggle. First, little old SLO does not need a FOURTH parking structure! Visit the current parking lot at the corner of Palm/Nipomo (the proposed parking structure’s location) during prime time usage and it’s never full!

Second, if you’re going to waste taxpayer $$$ on a boondoggle, keep a tight reign on the budget! Our community doesn’t need an expensive ($43M – $172K/space!) parking structure/theater/retail complex! Just build a damned parking structure if you must, but don’t saddle the taxpayers with all the additional pomp.

Third, restaurants have now fully re-opened. Close down the damned “parklets” (including the Parklet del Grande at Monterey and Chorro) and reclaim all our prime parking spaces!

Once more SLO City Council, did you even consider the parking impact when you closed most of Dana Street to would-be parkers from outside the neighborhood? Dana Street was a prime free parking source for Downtown SLO employees. One almost wonders if you made the change on Dana in an attempt to force the current parking structure boondoggle?

So go ahead and knock down the two homes on the proposed site (if you must), pave everything over and erect a big bronze “Heidi Harmon Memorial Parking Parcel” plaque, but please stop with all the other silliness!


My wife and I recently visited downtown slo. $5.75 for a cup of tea. $15 for a crummy sandwich. Lack of merchandise on the shelves. A couple of bucks for parking and a bunch of ugly poles where you once had meters. At least the Doc’s Java Ice Cream made the whole thing worthwhile. If you want to save the downtown get students back into town to shop, stock the shelves, do away with the parking meters, think creatively outside of the box and make it an enjoyable affordable place like it used to be. When you have an ideology that does not believe in capitalism, decentralization, serving customers, love of freedom and this country this is what you get. They ignore all the things that made this a great country and continue with their Marxist dystopian ideals while ignoring proof that they are on the wrong track totally.


Given the brutal competitive retail realities of Amazon, Wal*Mart, Target, etc., etc., downtowns everywhere will never be the same as they once were.

SLO and many other downtowns are destined to become centers for restaurants and bars with a smattering of small businesses (e.g. surf shops and lotion stores) focused on non-essential items. Sad, but reality.

I don’t think parking is slowing down the downtown these days, but that’s no reason to begin gouging on parking to build an unnecessary parking structures simply because the idea began as some politico’s wet dream more than 25 years ago.