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Locals present downtown parking referendum petition to the city 

parking downtown paso robles

Council votes to ‘strongly oppose’ half cent sales tax for regional road repairs

– The Paso Robles City Council met Tuesday night for its regular meeting. During public comment, citizen John Roush announced the petition to place parking on the November Ballot was turned in with approximately 2,300 signatures.

The city now has 30 days to confirm that the signatures gathered are valid. Next, the council would be required to reconsider the ordinance. If the council does not repeal the challenged ordinance, the voters would have an opportunity to vote on the paid parking program during the November election.

After introductions, Mayor John Hamon gave a proclamation for National Library Week as well as Month of the Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month. Capital Projects Engineer Ditas Esperanza then gave a capital projects update, which included projects such as Creston Road repairs, the incoming roundabout at Rolling Hills, and repairs to the Centennial Park parking lot.

All members of the council were present for the meeting, with Councilwoman Sharon Roden excused early due to being ill.

The council pulled the last discussion item to the front of the schedule so that Roden could be present to vote. The discussion item was for the council to take a position on the Local Roads First Transportation Tax Measure, a proposed half cent sales tax initiative.

The initiative would increase funding for road repairs throughout the county, with North County receiving 35% of the revenues. Allocations for different cities and areas within the county would be based on population.

Shrinking gas tax income reportedly due to the increase in efficiency in modern-day vehicles and the increase of electric vehicle ownership has led to a gap in funds for road repairs. San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) is proposing the sales tax as a way to bridge that gap.

Councilman Chris Bausch said that he felt the initiative would not be equitable in the way that the income would be divided. Councilman Steve Gregory said, “No way” and that the council needs to protect the ability to raise money for ourselves and not let the county decide how the money would be spent.

Councilman Fred Strong, who is the representative for Paso Robles on SLOCOG, clarified that every local government has a seat on the board, and that it is not the county that would be in control of the funds, but this regional council. He said he felt that SLOCOG was making a mistake by proposing this tax, and that it’s “not the right time for more taxes.”

Councilwoman Rhoden questioned if the proposed allocation of the funds would “benefit us or not.”

Public comments were mostly against the proposed tax. Ultimately, Steve Gregory made a motion to strongly oppose support of the proposed initiative, which was seconded by Fred Strong and passed unanimously.

The next discussion item was the return of the proposed ordinance amending the Paso Robles Municipal Code to increase bonds and salaries for the council and mayor. This item was first presented at the March 18 council meeting. This was the first reading of the ordinance that would increase the salary of the mayor and city council members to $1,540 and $1,155, respectively. Councilman Fred Strong made a motion to pass the ordinance, which Councilman Gregory seconded. Mayor Hamon voted yes and Councilman Bausch was the only no vote.

The council voted unanimously to pass the next discussion item, which was for the council to receive and file El Camino Homeless Organization’s (ECHO) second-quarter report and direct staff to disburse payment in the amount of $55,500 pursuant to the memorandum of understanding between the city and the organization.

ECHO reported that it had a record year last year, and is on track this year to surpass last year’s successes. So far this year, 69 people have successfully found housing with help from the organization, which currently operates with 70 beds. A representative from ECHO said that 70% of the people receiving services are coming directly from Salinas River encampments, and that seniors on fixed incomes and families were the most common demographics, many of whom were pushed out of housing due to raising costs.

The final discussion item was also passed unanimously by the council, which was to approve a resolution awarding a contract for landscape architecture design services for Larry Moore Park Redevelopment to David Volz Design in the amount of $707,498 and to award a contract for Larry Moore Park redevelopment California Environmental Quality Act services to SWCA Environmental Consultants in the amount of $144,042.

Click here to view the meeting agenda with links to staff reports.

Watch the full meeting on YouTube:

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