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Paso Robles mulls garage to address downtown parking 

Paso Robles City Council members say they're tired of sitting on their hands when it comes to solving a nagging and long-discussed city issue: downtown parking.

"I don't want to talk about parking anymore," City Councilmember Steve Gregory said during a March 6 meeting. "I want something done. Let's get something accomplished."

The same night, the City Council authorized $32,000 for a new parking study and made plans in June to discuss next steps, which range from pursuing a parking garage, to instituting timed parking, to improving public and multi-modal transportation services.

click to enlarge SOLVING PARKING Amid increased concerns about a need for more downtown parking, the Paso Robles City Council is mulling building a parking garage. - PHOTO COURTESY OF KEN FIGLIOLI
  • Photo Courtesy Of Ken Figlioli
  • SOLVING PARKING Amid increased concerns about a need for more downtown parking, the Paso Robles City Council is mulling building a parking garage.

Paso hasn't moved the needle much on the parking issue over the years, city officials say, other than adding 80 new parking spaces downtown in 2016 and 2017. Recently, the "clamor" for parking has "increased dramatically" in the community, according to Mayor Steve Martin.

"It's not just one or two people. We see it ranking higher on our citizen survey. ... We see it coming up in our goal setting sessions," Martin said.

Now the City Council wants to take a holistic look at the issue and factor in Paso's anticipated build-out to 44,000 residents.

The city's last parking study in 2008 recommended a timed parking program to free up spaces typically occupied by downtown business employees—but it was never implemented. The council is mulling long-term projects like a new parking garage, which would likely require a voter-approved bond measure for funding.

Councilman John Hamon stated he thought a three- to four-story garage could serve the city's needs for the next "50 to 60 years."

"I think it would explode our downtown," Hamon said.

Other suggestions to address the parking dilemma included improvements to the city's bike and pedestrian infrastructure and public transit options. Councilman Fred Strong noted that trolleys are an effective mode of transit in other areas of SLO County, and that could be considered in Paso.

"Cambria has been using it for years because they have very limited downtown parking so they run a trolley downtown at no charge," Strong said.

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