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Paso residents complain about parking, and parklets will be gone before 2022

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Some Paso Robles residents argue that parking is still a substantial issue for seniors—prohibiting many from enjoying the downtown area—that's been compounded by parklets.

NOT ENOUGH Paso Robles seniors are feeling the impacts of a $30 six-month parking permit and say parklets are compounding the issue. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CITY OF PASO ROBLES
  • Photo Courtesy Of The City Of Paso Robles
  • NOT ENOUGH Paso Robles seniors are feeling the impacts of a $30 six-month parking permit and say parklets are compounding the issue.

During the Paso City Council's March 16 meeting, council members voted in favor of lowering the cost of the Senior Permit Pilot Program and voted to end the temporary parklet program on Nov. 1.

During public comment, resident Serena Freeman said she's upset with the current $30 cost for a six-month parking permit for individuals 65 and older.

She and several other public speakers argued the permit cost is too much for individuals who are "cautious spenders" on a fixed income.

"We don't want to come into town and have the problem of finding a parking spot. A lot of seniors are disabled, handicapped, and really can't walk a long distance," Freeman said. "Why do you want to shun us and turn us away from the city?"

Other public commenters argued that the city needed to do a better job of understanding what the residents wanted in a parking program and not just the downtown business sector.

Mayor Steve Martin said he wanted to remind the community that the city conducted several surveys, held public hearings, and received a lot of public comment on the issue when it was first discussed in 2018 and continued into 2019 and 2020.

"This is not something we pulled out of our back pocket," he said.

In 2018, the council heard from downtown businesses, the business association, and residents about the lack of available parking downtown and employers' inability to control where their employees parked. Within the same year, the council established a parking management solution, including on-street parking regulations and an employee parking permit program. On-street parking included two hours of free parking followed by $1 per hour paid parking Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. In 2020, the council approved the $30 six-month senior parking permit.

Downtown Paso currently has 472 paid on-street spaces and 156 permit parking-lot spaces. However, in July 2020, the city launched its outdoor dining program that took over 65 paid parking spaces. The city issued 24 temporary outdoor dining encroachment permits, which caused a 14 percent reduction in available parking.

Carole MacDonal, owner of La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant, spoke in favor of parklets saying without those and federal assistance, they would have lost their business. MacDonal said parklets should stick around beyond 2021 because it's unknown when businesses will be able to operate indoors with a full seating capacity.

"Even if we could go back to 100 percent seating, I'm not sure how comfortable people would be sitting close together again," she said.

At the March 16 meeting, the council directed staff to return with a proposal to extend the Temporary Outdoor Dining Program to Nov. 1, 2021.

Council members also directed staff to return with options for seasonal and year-round parklets with feedback from stakeholders and on potential parking impacts.

The current parking program was extended to operate Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will have a parking coordinator and three part-time parking ambassadors. The cost of the Senior Permit Pilot Program was reduced from $30 to $5. Δ

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