By Tom O’Brien

The newly-enacted downtown parking program for Paso Robles went live on December 1 and City officials, business owners, and concerned citizens are waiting to see if the new system will alleviate some the area’s congestion issues.

“We’re noticing a slight difference with not as many cars parked downtown at 8:30 a.m. but I’m still not hearing that the impact is impactful enough,” Paso Robles Chamber CEO Gina
Fitzpatrick said.

The $5 per month parking program was rolled out in recent months due to complaints from downtown businesses. A chief concern among owners was that employees from other companies were parking in spots reserved for patrons.

“There were no places for customers to park,” said Norma Moye, executive director of the Paso Robles Downtown Main Street Association.

The designated parking areas siphon off 150 spaces from several lots throughout downtown, including City Hall, the train station, as well as the lots at Railroad, Spring, Pine, and 12th streets.

Reactions to the program from the business community have been generally positive thus far but the City and coordinating officials have stressed this is only one phase of a multifaceted plan.
“We are hearing good things,” Fitzpatrick said. “We definitely know this is just step one of a process and as we move forward and see how these 150 parking spaces have affected downtown, then we’ll look into phase two or what we need there.

“Do we need more assigned parking or do we need to go to timed parking? That’s what all this is about; really paint that picture and get a clear assessment of where we are today.”

The Downtown Association’s Moye said that whatever happened, she hoped it wasn’t parking meters.

“They’re ugly,” she added. “They take away the charm of downtown — a lot of tourists comment on the charm of downtown Paso Robles. “We don’t want that to change,” she said.
It is for that reason the City is attempting to move forward with a methodical pace in addressing its parking overflow issues.

The Chamber’s Fitzpatrick said her organization was attempting to help everyone reach an agreeable compromise.

“We’ve really been trying to find that way to meet in the middle,” she added. “That’s why everything has been put in stages, because if there can be a solution without going directly and straight to meters, let’s do that.”

There are three types of monthly $5 parking permits currently for sale:
daytime employees (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.);
evening employees (5 to 8 p.m.);
and downtown residents (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
The parking program is only effective on weekdays. The permits can be purchased on the City’s online portal at prcity.com/361/Downtown-Parking