Paso Robles to continue paid parking program, end free parking

November 22, 2023


The Paso Robles City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday to continue the controversial downtown paid parking program while canceling the first two hours of free parking and lowering the hourly rate.

During public comment, more than a dozen speakers asked the council to terminate the program. Only one speaker wanted the program to continue, but with changes to include four or five hours of free parking, which would help stop employees from taking up primary parking spots for extended periods of time.

Initially, the program was put into place to stop employees of local businesses from parking in the downtown area.

Noting most members of the public, including local business owners, do not want paid parking, Councilman Fred Strong said he wanted to terminate the program. He suggested putting in shuttles to hotels for tourists, many of whom visit the area for wine tasting.

In an attempt to simplify the program, Councilwoman Sharon Roden suggested charging $2 an hour from the time a person parks and increasing signage. Roden felt the parking program could be used to raise revenue for the city.

Councilman Chris Bausch voiced concerns with how they bring locals who have stopped shopping and dining in the downtown back. He argued against stacking more expenses on residents who are already having financial issues because of cost of living increases.

In line with Strong, Bausch wanted to terminate the paid parking program. Bausch, however, wanted timed parking in a portion of the downtown, with no more than three or four hours at a time. He also wanted the city to look into building a parking garage.

In the downtown core, the city currently provides two free hours of parking with each additional hour costing $2. Payments are made through kiosks located throughout the downtown area where you enter your license plate number.

The council then voted 3-2, with Strong and Bausch dissenting, to charge $1 an hour for parking in the downtown area, with no free parking. In addition, the city will provide parking passes to residents over 65 years of age.


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Best news Atascadero has had since SLO went to $4/hour for parking!

As way to protest the city’s decision to take away free parking the businesses could have a weekend special for senior citizens with parking passes to fill the paid parking areas with vehicles that don’t have to pay. The businesses could run a joint ad in the paper advertising senior citizen day specials every weekend when the tourist are there.

City governments everywhere, and especially in the town of SLO, should realize that with office vacancies at around 30% and increasing, downtowns ain’t all that. Adding paid parking to that? Phaghetaboutit.

I wonder if the cities that do this make enough to offset what the merchants lose? I don’t go to SLO anymore for this reason, and if Morro Bay does it I won’t be going to any place on the Embarcadero.

The city made my decision years ago to avoid the so-called down town area so not losing anything from me, I stopped years ago. Nothing I need within the paid parking area of Paso I can not pick up somewhere else when out and about.

Once again nothing was accomplished. I mean why would you they listen to EVERYONE in the community?

What did Gump’s mama say. “Stupid is as stupid does.”

“Everyone”… You mean aboout 10 people who had the time to show up to a Paso council meeting. Listening to the voices of a few public speakers is not democracy.

Watch the three howl when “democracy” produces populist candidates who unseat them in the next election. Someone could easily ride this single issue onto a city council seat.

This is a good call. The real point of paid parking is to impart the costs of wasted space onto the users of that space, we want to discourage people from keeping their car downtown all day blocking the space for other visitors. I believe they should have kept the first hour free (most strongly encourages flow of vehicles that are making short stops), but I understand since prices are so low (one dollar isn’t anything for people who shop or eat in downtown Paso – very expensive town). Particularly since parking enforcement stops at 5pm, it used to be if you came to Paso by 3pm you got free parking which is no good.

It’s not the dollar. People can afford a dollar. It’s the hassle of going to the machine and entering your info and paying. Very off-putting.

That’s a fair response, it is a hassle. My hope is that they do get around to building a parking structure – zero hastle, pay as you leave, frees up downtown space for outdoor business.

“We can’t wait to make the downtown as irrelevant as downtown SLO! Just wait until we make it easier for the homeless to camp in the park!”–Paso Robles City Council

You took the words right out of my mouth….. I WONT be shopping in Paso Robles again! The Citizens and business owners are against it but the Council voted for it anyway, bunch of nuts.

Makes ya wonder if anyone in local government is profiting or benefiting from the parking program or has close personal relationships with someone who is.

Time to vote them out