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New payment machines mean the end of free late-night parking at SLO’s downtown garages

New payment system comes to SLO’s downtown parking garages

San Luis Obispo has installed new pay-on-foot machines at its downtown parking garages, which means payment will be required 24-7.
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San Luis Obispo has installed new pay-on-foot machines at its downtown parking garages, which means payment will be required 24-7.

If you use San Luis Obispo’s downtown parking garages, you’ll soon notice the city’s new automated, “pay-on-foot machines,” which allow drivers to park without the assistance of a booth attendant.

The city’s parking system upgrades will take place over the next few weeks, said Scott Lee, the city’s parking services manager, and include a new entry gate device and two new pay-on-foot systems at each of the three downtown structures.

The systems will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, meaning customers will no longer be able to enter or leave the structure for free in the late-night hours as they do now, after attendants leave and the gates are lifted.

Upon leaving the structure, users can enter their ticket and pay for parking with cash or a credit card at the pay-on-foot system before returning to their car, and then insert a validated ticket into the automated system to open the gate to leave, the city said in a statement.

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A pay-on-foot machine will soon be in operation at the Marsh Street parking garage in San Luis Obispo. City of SLO

Similar systems exist in cities such as San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

The changes will happen at the Marsh Street structure next week and at the Palm Street structures “soon after,” SLO officials said.

Costs for customer parking won’t change: The first hour is free and followed by $1.25 per hour thereafter). The daily maximum will remain at $12.50, Lee said.

For the time being, parking booth attendants will remain on site as well to provide assistance with payments, take cash or credit in person if needed, provide directions and monitor the garages, Lee told The Tribune in an email.

The city has about 20 part-time employees who serve as parking attendants, working different hours per week, Lee said. They all will stay on with the change of system and no job cuts are expected, Lee added.

“Some are retirees and others are students or younger adults who just want to work and make some extra money,” Lee said. “... (The new system) will also allow to better schedule staff as they can move between structures and better cover absences and illnesses or staff shortages. There is no planned elimination of these staff members.”

The new system, which has been planned for years, cost $725,000, Lee said in an email.

New software will link to a city website, where drivers can view parking availability by location. Eventually, a mobile platform will be added as well.

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The automated system will make getting in and out of the two structures more efficient and allows the city to “dynamically link the parking availability by location to the city website,” the city said.

“Community members are encouraged to utilize the structures,” the city said, “There is no risk of citation for exceeding a posted limit, and there is no need to estimate how long each stay will be.”

“This technology represents current best practices in parking management and enables the city to provide a higher level of service to parking customers,” the city said.

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