No more paid parking in downtown Paso Robles, for now

February 6, 2024


Unhappy with paid parking in downtown Paso Robles? This is your lucky day. The Paso Robles City Council agreed Tuesday to pause the paid parking program after receiving a cease and desist letter from citizen advocate Gary Lehrer questioning the program’s legality.

In closed session on Tuesday, the Paso Robles City Council discussed Lehrer’s threat of litigation regarding the alleged illegality of establishing parking rates without an ordinance and in violation of the Brown Act. The council decided to pause the program and halt collecting parking fees pending further review by the city.

City officials plan to discuss how to move forward at a city council meeting on Feb. 20.

While state law requires councils establish or modify paid parking rates by ordinance only, the Paso Robles City Council has repeatedly set parking rates through other avenues such as resolutions and during discussion-only agenda items. In 2018, the city council modified its parking ordinance to allow the city to set parking rates through resolutions.

On its Nov. 21 agenda, the council was scheduled to hold a discussion on parking rates and then provide staff with direction. During their discussion, the city council voted 3-2 to continue the controversial downtown paid parking program while canceling the first two hours of free parking and lowering the hourly rate. Councilmen Fred Strong and Chris Bausch both questioned the legality of the council’s action.

When asked if the vote to change parking rates was legally done, San Luis Obispo based attorney Saro Rizzo told CalCoastNews the action appeared to violate the California Vehicle Code.

The California Vehicle Code states that municipalities can only change parking fees through an ordinance, according to California Vehicle Code 22508(a).  The code also allows the public to use “local referendum processes” to object to adopted parking meter zones or fixed rates.

“A local authority shall not establish parking meter zones or fix the rate of fees for those zones except by ordinance,” according to the vehicle code. “The rate of fees may be variable, based upon criteria identified by the local authority in the ordinance. An ordinance establishing a parking meter zone shall describe the area that would be included within the zone.”

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Can I just leave a pile of pennies and nickels on the curb?

It just doesn’t feel right, all that free parking. How am I supposed to enjoy my $18 hamburger with the guilt hanging over me?

Well, I’m so inspired I might go to one of those real estate offices and buy something.

happy happy happy for now… even though we dont go much downtown!

I don’t always agree with Bausch and Strong but at least they’ve listened to downtown merchants from the start. Remember that when it’s election time. Hamon needs to go.

Also, with no tickets to write, will the city’s “meter maids” now be on paid leave? $$$

I encourage everyone who has received a parking ticket to dispute it. With no ordinance in place there is no violation of law only of the councils will.

Where are the overpaid under worked City Manager, City Attorney, Parking Enforcement and Police Chief?

Citizen watchdog prevails! How can California politicians pretend to ignore the Brown Act? How can the Paso Robles City Attorney sit idly by while the city council violates the Brown Act and specific California statutes related to this parking zone issue?

“How can California politicians pretend to ignore the Brown Act? How can the Paso Robles City Attorney sit idly by while the city council violates the Brown Act?” Yeah. You should ask the SLO council and city attorney the same questions. For example, approval of the controversial Anholm bike fiasco was via a Brown Act violation cooked up by the mayor and council members and blessed by the city attorney. And that scheme did a 180 on a different plan the council had approved at a legitimate public hearing at their previous meeting. Dishonesty in local government stinks, but it’s unfortunately commonplace here.