July 22, 2024

Parking fee changes in Santa Barbara go to Finance Committee for a deep review

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Santa Barbara downtown parking fees could be changing in many ways this year.

The parking department funds are dwindling and a city report said they will be gone next year at the current pace. With that, the city’s general fund would have to be used to back fill at a time when a $7-million deficit is forecasted.

Fee changes to generate more revenue have been proposed. The plans also include the addition of parking meters in the downtown core area.

The finance committee, which is made up of three City Councilmembers, examined the figures Tuesday, and heard from the public. They decided to move the item forward to the full council in time for a special budget meeting May 15.

The city’s staff says it saw this coming years ago but it was not a welcoming conversation to have with the public. At the time, the city also had a big reserve to hold off the income shortfall in the parking funds but that cushion has run out.

“As you are aware, there is quite a lot of  resistance to increasing parking fees and doing something with the subsidized parking period,” said Downtown Team Manager Sarah Clark.

 With a variety pack of free times, pay periods that are different for parking garages than the surface lots, a $10 limit for all day parking in some areas,  and a discount for downtown employee parking, the city’s finance committee did see some workable solutions in the presentation.

Santa Barbara City Councilmember Megan Harmon said the staff was able, “to thread the needle and figure out a way to make this sustainable and often frankly and  making it more affordable for local folks to be downtown.”

“One of the questions raised about downtown is, what if it were simply busier? That would that bring more cars into parking lots and more people shopping. It could also revive the budget.

For more information go to: City of Santa Barbara Parking report.

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