SLO meter change delayed

Drivers will be able to park for free on Sundays in downtown San Luis Obispo for a little while longer.

The plan to charge motorists to park during certain hours on the historically free day has been delayed, and city officials say the new charge will not be implemented until early next year, likely in January.

In July, the San Luis Obispo City Council voted unanimously to charge for parking on Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m.

Those new fees were slated to begin this month. However, it’s going to take longer than expected to update the signs throughout the downtown area with the new parking regulations, said Robert Horch, the city’s parking services manager.

The city must replace 138 signs and about 88 posts. A new federal requirement also requires that the old signs be replaced with new, more reflective signs, Horch said.

The project, originally estimated at $11,000 will now cost about $102,500, he said.

The City Council will be asked to approve the increased cost in October.

In July, the City Council also approved increasing the hourly meter rate from $1.25 to $1.50 in the heart of downtown.

That change was expected to begin in November. It is has also been pushed until early next year, Horch said.

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 $385,610 in added annual revenue to the city.

Horch said that even with the increased costs of the signs the program is still a lucrative one for the city to pursue.

The delay in implementing it until January also coincides with the city’s long-standing policy not to start public works projects in the downtown area from Thanksgiving through the Christmas holiday to avoid interrupting businesses during a season that generates a substantial share of the city’s sales tax revenues for the year.

“When we make the transition, we will make sure to notify everyone this is coming,” Horch said. “We don’t want it to be a surprise for anyone.”