The cost of parking in San Luis Obispo is going up after several changes approved by the City Council on Tuesday, including the decision to end free Sunday parking downtown.
The council voted in favor of three major changes to parking regulations.
Those include charging for Sunday parking from 1 to 6 p.m., increasing the hourly meter rate from $1.25 to $1.50 in the heart of downtown and charging residents who live in parking districts for permits to park on the street.
The council approved the Sunday parking change unanimously. But Councilman Dan Carpenter dissented in the 4-1 vote to increase meter fees.
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The council had directed staff in April to bring forward a plan to charge drivers to park on Sundays and to increase the hourly meter rate in an area dubbed the “super core” in the heart of downtown.
The changes made Tuesday are set to return for final approval July 19, with the Sunday fees expected to take effect in late August or early September.
The downtown increase, which affects 400 meters, would not take effect until November because the city is installing meters that take credit cards.
The charge for Sunday parking and the meter increases are intended to bolster revenue the city says it needs to build a $20 million parking structure at Palm and Nipomo streets. Combined, the plans would bring an estimated $312,125 in added revenue to the city.
The council also approved on a 3-1-0 vote Tuesday a $10 annual fee for permits for residents who live in neighborhoods that require a permit to park on the street. Carpenter dissented, and Mayor Jan Marx recused herself because of a possible conflict of interest.
There are eight neighborhoods in the city that require the permits for street parking: Alta Vista, College Highlands, Ferrini, Murray, Monterey Heights, Park View, Palomar and Tassajara/South Tassajara.
A handful of residents protested the fee, saying it was a hardship they should not face.
“A $10 fee today doesn’t seem like a lot, but where is the cap?” Dana Justesen asked.
Others spoke in favor of it and said they didn’t mind paying the cost or even more to guarantee they had parking on their streets.
The move is intended to cover the expenses of running the permit program, such as printing and issuing placards, inspections and enforcement.
Until 2009, the cost of the program was covered in part by parking fines issued by the police department. However, that money has since been shifted into the city’s general fund from the parking fund, leaving the city to cover about $15,000 of the $60,000 needed to run the program, said Peggy Mandeville, the city’s principal transportation planner.
The fee is meant to offset that cost and make the permit program pay for itself. The city issued 1,512 permits in 2010.
Each resident can obtain up to two permits each year.
Council members did ask for a future discussion of the residential parking districts and their merits after hearing concerns of residents Tuesday night.