Santa Barbara facing budget deficit, eyeing an increase in parking fees

February 14, 2024


Facing a $3.8 million budget deficit, the City of Santa Barbara is discussing changes to its parking program, including raising rates and eliminating or shortening free parking periods.

In just the parking program, the city anticipates a $2 million funding gap next year.

The city operates 15 parking lots and structures. The city currently offers 75-minutes free parking in its lots and structures. As a result, the city reports 60% of those parking in the downtown lots do not pay for parking.

A year after the Santa Barbra City Council voted to raise its parking rate from $1.50 to $2.50 an hour, the council voted to raise the rate to $3 an hour.

The city is now eyeing another increase in rates or a modification of the free parking period.

Business owners in the downtown have voiced concerns that increased parking fees will harm businesses.

In downtown San Luis Obispo, where the city has raised the parking rate to $4 an hour, multiple business have closed or moved to locations outside the downtown parking zone, many pointing out a reduction in customers.

Further north, in Paso Robles, the city voted in November to eliminate free parking in an attempt to get the program to run in the black. However, the city council failed to abide by a state law regarding parking and had to pause the program.

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There’s really nothing to see here, folks: Santa Barbara just took a page out of the San Luis Obispo city playbook.

One more unrelated tax and spend fiasco on the horizon: the former Sunnyside School in Los Osos.

Rumor has it the Bruce Gibson wants the county to buy this property. Not withstanding the $50 million in deferred maintenance of a facility built in the 1960’s and liability risks associated with asbestos, Bruce wants the county to spend $ millions to buy it. Oh Bruce, I know your busy up at the state working to gut Prop 13, but please recall the County is in a multi-million deficit with its current facilities having $10’s of million in deferred maintenance. I know in your volunteer statewide role, you are spending your time visiting all 57 other counties. Perhaps you might find a moment to visit one of the county’s parking lots or check out their roofs … just take a gander at the woeful state on the current county facilities before you more than double the county’s deferred maintenance.

Fresh off ‘Bruce’s Boondoggle,’ the Oklahoma Safe Parking fiasco, he’s at it again.

Like the most of the other comments, SB doesn’t have a revenue problem, they have an expenditure problem…just like SLO County. And in both cases, the tax and spend leadership has placed the burden of their poor governance right on our backs, the tax payers. Prop. 13 protects against us against tax increase but the snakes in power know that fees aren’t controlled in the same way, so what a shock … up go the fees. A few weeks back SLO county raised their fees dramatically to help offset a $ multi-million deficit and a near $1 billion unfunded pension liability. Expenditure cuts…$0. And candidate Funk wants to add staff, unbelievable.

Old budgeting adage: you can’t spend your way out of a deficit.

Here’s an idea: Remove the painfully stupid Covid barriers on State St. Not only will the clog of De La Vina, Anacapa, Chapala, and Santa Barbara streets noticeably ease, but people will now be able to drop off shoppers along the way. The downtown artery, is wholly dependent on tourism and shopping. Right now, people are going to Goleta, where parking is free, access by car is easy, the hordes of panhandlers do not exist, and not one Covid barrier can be found.

Maybe the City should consider transferring parking enforcement officers to other open jobs so salaries are not taken from the parking fee account.

I don’t suppose the idea of reducing salary and pension costs entered the discussion. LMAO

How about a decrease in the city’s biggest expense, likely 65+% of their budget, employee compensation?

Looks like the parking fees is the new cash cow and everyone wants a piece of it. You surely could not let people park free on streets they have already been taxed for and spend their money increasing your sales tax revenue, that’s just not fare. Pretty soon cities will require you to buy a pass and display it that allows you to drive on the roads in town so you can park at the fee required parking spots. I can see their eyes lighting up already