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SLO council raises parking fees

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The San Luis Obispo City Council recently upped the cost of parking downtown and, for the first time, began charging for parking in some neighborhoods. It  also gave final approval at a July 5 meeting for upping downtown parking rates and charging for Sunday parking for the first time.

The city has restricted parking in neighborhoods near Cal Poly and other schools to keep students from overwhelming the street with their vehicles. Residents are issued parking passes, two for each household in the areas. There are eight special parking districts in the city, and more than 1,512 permits have been issued.

These parking permits have traditionally been free. Now, parking passes will cost $10 per permit per year.

People on both sides of the issue admit $10 isn’t much compared to many of the city’s other fees, but opponents of the fees say the low initial cost is just the beginning.

“Ten dollars doesn’t sound like much,” said Dana Justesen, who lives in one of the neighborhoods. “But where do you stop? Where is the cap?”

Some longtime council watchers and city leaders are concerned the city may try to recoup lost tax income by slowly raising fees on services that have always been provided at a low or negligible cost.

It costs the city $59,884 a year to enforce the parking districts. Much of that is for labor costs, including $56.01 an hour, 240 hours a year, for an administrative assistant to process permits. The new fees are estimated to pay for $44,840 of the overall cost.

The council followed up that vote by finally approving 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday parking fees in downtown SLO and raising parking rates in the downtown core to $1.50 from $1.25. Councilman Dan Carpenter voted against the meter increases.

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