SLO’s draconian parking measures harm our community

November 4, 2023


There has been growing outrage at the new draconian parking measures put in place by the San Luis Obispo City Council to pay for their past mistakes. Lots of average Joes (like me) and many local businesses are alarmed at the consequences of these new policies.

Apparently, this has gotten the attention (duh, does it take a mob of angry citizens to get our ‘leaders’ heads out of the sand?) of the council and they called for a special meeting on Nov 7 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss this. All you good folks of SLO are invited to attend this meeting and/or email the council at to express your feelings.

I sent this note to the SLO City Council some days ago:

I am one of the outraged public about the costs, reduced hours (to almost nothing) of free parking, the high cost of tickets, confusing Kiosks and so on.

About a month, ago I heard about your puny one hour free parking for locals (in only one garage!!!!). Not being a full on internet nerd I engaged an expert friend of mine to help me sign up, good thing I did. Forty five minutes and three calls to the helpline later I finally got hooked up. What a frustrating nightmare. Did anyone think to review that process for ease of use?

A while back, I got a parking ticket (not downtown), I paid it immediately online with my credit card. Credit card fees are about 3.5 %, your parking ticket department charged me 5%!

All this points to the comparison between our glorious leaders and the Sheriff of Nottingham.

No matter what, the high fees and other nuisances are just aggravating and shoppers are going elsewhere, strangling our downtown-thanks to poorly thought out policies of those we had put our trust in.

I wonder about all the low paid workers in our downtown, how are they managing? What about all the shoppers who have fled to other pastures? What about our dear Palm theater, an icon that is being wiped out by your policies? The owner, Jim Dee, has done so much for this town and this is his reward.

We all know money is tight, and you have much to manage. That is true for Joe Citizen as well.

Perhaps, you could review the outrageous salaries of top staff and other aspects of the budget to find areas that are taxing our resources more than necessary.

We all want a user friendly and vibrant downtown, I don’t think your methods are working.

How about garage parking with validation from certain, or all, businesses for an hour or two (especially for the Palm since movies are over an hour)?

And I have another concern. Remember when our glorious leaders jammed that rental inspection thing down our throats back in 2014 or so? That was so poorly conceived, implemented and run that folks across the political spectrum hated it. Might even have contributed to Mayor Marx losing to that trickster Heidi Harmon.

After the landslide election for a bunch of so-called ‘progressives’ (I am a real progressive, none of them were) in 2016 the first thing they did was hold a town hall meeting at the Vets Hall to ‘look into’ the rental inspection fiasco. What a childish, ridiculous and waste of time that disaster was. What a bunch of absolute fools. Instead they should have just revoked the damn ill conceived ordinance. I say this as a warning to our present council (which has only one remaining ‘progressive’ from those dark past times)-try to act like adults and don’t waste our time with foolish games.

And don’t waste our money on hired out consultants etc. just send some of the overpaid staff downtown to talk to our businesses that are being crushed under the weight of taxation and lack of customers because we refuse to pay the outrageous parking fees.

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Don’t go, I quit 15 years ago and haven’t looked back.

Many months ago was last time I went to SLO. I went to Big Sky Restaurant for dinner. It was then I found out they moved the parking fee cut off time from 6PM to 9PM. Haven’t been back since. Nor will I.

Same here. The one and only parking ticket I have ever received, was the day after they, unknown to most citizens, advanced the cut off from 4:00 to 5:30.

It’s easy, there is no reason for anyone other than an out-of-town tourist to park in downtown SLO. Just say no.

My wife and i used to love shopping in downtown SLO. WE have not spent one dime in downtown SLO since they put in the parking meters. Sorry business owners!

It should be obvious that these so called “leaders” are frauds. Their primary interest is obtaining large salary’s for themselves. Their secondary interest is raking in as much money in taxes and fees as they can. All you have to do is observe what they do and ignore what they say to realize how these “leaders” operate. They’re either incompetent or liars. Vote them out or deal with the consequences.

I agree: I am tired of the parking fees. It’s not working, regardless of what the intent is. I personally can’t stand parking in the parking garages, despite how efficient they may be. Perhaps if I worked downtown, I’d park in a structure so I could get to my office easily. I’ll buy that. The average citizen wants to park fairly close to their destination, and do so at a reasonable rate. No rocket science there. I ride my bike downtown sometimes, and I will also admit that biking is easier (when possible) than driving a car, but that’s not always feasible.

Unfortunately, I disagree about the outrageous salary comment. The city council is paid peanuts, and they have a mountain of work to do (like read all of our enraged emails). They did choose to be on the council, but not unlike any political office at this point: there aren’t a ton of people lining up to join the victims of a firing squad that is small town politics.

Let’s let our voices be heard and guide change rather than throwing shade at our council who, despite this poor parking outcome, does a good job of managing the chaos.

I was not referring to CC salaries, but rather to staff. CCN has reported on our high staffing salaries in the past and I believe they are exorbitant, often exceeding those of comparable California state officials (ie our city attorney, who farms out any real legal help, makes more than the Attorney General). Then we have the huge pension plans, like a tidal wave about to burst on us.

I think you missed the point. Staff salaries not council:

Check out “Transparent California “ and see for yourself. Many salaries (pay, not other benefits) in the $200k-$300k range. Too many in my opinion.

Well said! My wife and I stopped shopping in downtown SLO years ago due to parking issues and increasing cost. We liked the on-street dining areas that were installed during the pandemic. We urged SLO City to permanently allow the new dining areas, but many were removed. Also urged the city to permanently close downtown Higuera to make it a promenade with more restaurants and outdoor dining, pop-up shops, etc, but it has never happened. So, we now spend our shopping and dining $ in surrounding cities from Paso, Cambria, Morro Bay and Atascadero to Santa Maria. Downtown SLO has lost its charm and attraction. Another big impact is far more shopping online since there is comparatively little available in SLO. Parking should be free to encourage more visitors and local shoppers. SLO is no longer a desirable place to shop and dine.

Both Pete Evans and commenter truthinscience have identified my thoughts and feelings about downtown SLO so well that I have nothing particularly poignant to add.

I have not visited downtown SLO in several years and have no plans to do so at any time in the future. And, the more that I read about the planned destruction of SLO’s downtown, the more comfortable I am with my absence.

It’s such a shame- the SLO downtown used to be a clean, safe and fun area to shop and dine…………

Goofy lane striping; delineator traps; circus clown stop signals; empty bike lanes hogging the roads; credit card meters; high parking charges … BOYCOTT SLO!

Unfortunately, the residents of SLO-town are getting the city government that they voted for.

Actions, not words, indicate that the elites in charge of SLO-town seem to have an angry vendetta against anyone trying to shop in downtown SLO.

The elites should be ashamed of the paucity of handicapped parking spaces in downtown SLO. Its ludicrous that the handicapped have to slep 4 blocks to a store from the 4th floor of a downtown parking garage.

NorthCountyGuy: paucity of handicapped parking spaces in downtown SLO—slep 4 blocks to a store from the 4th floor “

Anyone with a disabled license plate or a current placard (properly displayed from the rear-view mirror) may park for free in all public parking lots and on-street public parking downtown. ”

The parking structures charge for handicapped parking, street is free.

The point of handicapped parking, is to be as close as possible to your destination. When the only available parking spot, albeit for free, is 4 blocks away…ya gotta shlep.

“Let’s let our voices be heard and guide change rather than throwing shade at our council who, despite this poor parking outcome, does a good job of managing the chaos.” Managing the chaos?? For at least the last 10 years the SLO City Council and Mayor have done nothing but constantly create drama and chaos. The chaos of $126 million in unfunded pension debt. The chaos of where we can hide the homeless. The chaos of defund the police. The chaos of driving on downtown streets where the traffic markings look like they were painted by Piet Mondrian or Jackson Pollock. Now they have brought us the chaos of building another parking garage (that we don’t need) and killing downtown to pay for it. Trying to make excuses or apologize for them has gotten us to where we are today.

Correction: the unfunded liability to CalPERS is around $180,000,000 not $126,000,000. The interest on this debt is currently costing over $1million a month! On top of this, the city has bonded indebtedness on the sewer plant, parking structures and other capital improvements, and plans to spend even more money on another parking garage and a new police station. The city is technically insolvent and has been for years. The council must cut expenses. It should be obvious: We can’t tax and fee our way out of this mess.

Staff and this City Council will never cut expenses. They’re all “progressives” who love to spend other people’s money. Vote them out!

Good letter Pete. Don’t expect any of those outrageous salaries to come down. In fact, every negotiation has pushed salaries up on the backs of many local citizens who are struggling to make ends meet. Parking rates and fines are crippling the downtown, especially the small businesses that are the backbone of a vibrant community. No one at city hall seems to care as long as they keep getting their paycheck and spew the talking points. The City of SLO has become a town for the elite which is shameful and disgraceful. If your Mayor and City Council don’t take significant action, vote ‘‘em out!!!