SLO’s $50 million proposed parking garage boondoggle

March 7, 2023

Leslie Halls


Why would anyone even consider giving away/trading valuable city property and taking on another $50 million in bonded indebtedness to meet alleged future parking needs that the city’s own consultants see no need for? The council’s logic is, we don’t have the money now, but it will cost more in the future, so let’s go into more debt now, while interest rates are at their highest peak in forty years, to build it and save some money in the future when we may need it!

The city has been technically insolvent for years, owing over $160 million to CalPERS for employees’ retirements and millions more in outstanding bonds. The last thing the city needs to do is take on more debt for any reason.

Perhaps the council members have not been downtown recently to see the all the vacant retail spaces, many of which have been sitting empty for years now. Wouldn’t it be more prudent to find ways to get those spaces occupied and generating sales tax revenue?

The Little Theater claims it will draw 50,000 people downtown every year. With 206 seats, this means they plan to have 246 sold out performances every year, or five sold out performances every week. Is this realistic?

Will theater patrons really park in a parking structure by the theater, walk around  past the homeless to a restaurant, eat out, then walk back in the dark to go to the play? If they are just going to a performance and then going home, they are not benefiting downtown businesses.

I chaired the Promotional Coordinating Committee in the 1980s, when building a performing arts center was originally proposed. The reasons the PAC was ultimately put at Cal Poly and not downtown are still valid reasons today: the building would not be in use most of the time, the city would bear the brunt of maintenance, and it would eat up a large section of potentially more valuable (read: revenue-generating) space.

Part of the funding agreement for the PAC was that local organizations would have the opportunity to use the PAC. If this is not happening frequently enough, that agreement should be revisited. The parking is right there, and Cal Poly built the parking structure – not the SLO taxpayers. Also, there is usually no charge to park there.

Lastly, many new venues have come on board in the past 30 years since the recession in 1990 – the PAC, the Clark Center in Arroyo Grande, and numerous wineries that cater to local performers. This project has outlived its time and should be shelved along with the cassette tapes and landlines that were in use when it was first conceived.

Leslie Halls is president of the San Luis Obispo Property and Business Owners Association. She has lived in SLO for more than 40 years.

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A SLO city councilman in 1972 tried to bring the idea of a PAC and parking lot to bring more income and activity downtown and was voted down. I wonder what that would have looked like today? Interestingly, the same guy proposed the Prado overpass and to have Prado run to Broad St. Both were shot down.

Lmao. I’d bet my next paycheck on this writer and all the NIMBYs in these replies all being dead within the next 15-20 years, why the hell should we care what these idiots think? Moronic, short-sighted dinosaurs!

So, you favor purchasing the $50m loan now?

What do you mean “now?” That was incoherent, care to reword?

No. My question is clear.

I’m curious if “gPros” was on the Board of Directors at Silicon Valley Bank?

This is the problem with how we handle our National Debt, it sets a bad example for other incorporated governments (SLO) thence the general public. Then there is the interest paid on the national debt, which goes to who? Right! Most don’t know and this epiphany would be in the category of dangerous information. The last thing the State, County, City or anybody should do right now is to incur more debt. Go shopping for the things you need to check availability and prices. Right now it is a good time to learn how to do without, you will likely need to be adjusted for that reality very soon.

Once the 100 million parking structure is build we will need additional employees to run and maintain the structure because it will operate in the red forever

Ridiculous idea, but not unexpected from this and past monoculture councils hoodwinked by staff. Who will pushback on this nonsense? Every business and property owner downtown should be screaming at city hall.