The public needs to abide by the honor system when using new 30-minute parking spots in downtown Paso Robles, according to the City Council.
The new experimental parking initiative was approved by the council Tuesday night.
“While it might not be the solution, it may be a good interim option,” community development director Ron Whisenand said when presenting the proposal.
In March 2008, the City Council adopted an official downtown parking management plan that puts paid parking at the forefront.
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It’s set to be implemented in a much larger project that’s moving through the approval process.
However, one merchant who gained support of 80 other business owners said the downtown can no longer wait.
The current parking situation frustrates downtown merchants, they say, because employees and business owners park all day in spots that shoppers need.
In hopes of fixing that, Bobbi Conner, owner of Natural Alternative Nutrition on Pine Street, lobbied the council to let her paint curbs on 15 spaces — one spot per block in the downtown core — and stencil them for 30-minute parking to help circulate traffic.
Conner’s idea also gained support from the Paso Robles Main Street Association, downtown businesses and the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce.
Conner and other volunteers will paint the spots green in about three weeks, she said.
The city isn’t paying for the parking effort, officials said, as the merchants on a volunteer basis will monitor it.
Park Cinemas was among the few businesses not in favor of the plan.
Theater owners don’t want any parking restrictions at nighttime, and worry that they might grow in scope. Opponents didn’t speak at Tuesday’s meeting.
The council largely supported the idea but first voiced concerns on enforcement and the time of day the green zones will be in effect.
For enforcement, timed parking violations require repeated returns to the downtown area by officers to monitor how long cars remain parked, police Chief Lisa Solomon said. The department can’t afford to dedicate officer time to that right now, she noted.
“It’s enforceable by code,” she said of violating green zone rules, “but it’s a matter of resources and priority.”
The effort was approved 4-1, with Councilman Fred Strong dissenting.
Strong wanted the time frame, such as daytime hours, stenciled on the curbs. Leaders with the Main Street Association said it looked too wordy that way.
Conner wanted to make the curbs simple and lessen costs by not including signage, she said. She said that the plan is meant for the daytime hours when shops are open.