Mayor talks Conference Center, parking, growth and roads
–Conference Center, parking, growth and roads. These are the major issues emerging in the last half of the year and the discussions will surely extend into and beyond 2019. So, let’s dive right in.
Conference Center: The City of Paso Robles will partner with the Paso Robles Event Center and TravelPaso (our local destination management organization) to investigate the potential for Conference Center in our community. Most likely it would be situation on the existing fairgrounds. This facility would be the only one of its kind in the County of San Luis Obispo. It would serve the needs of business planners nation-wide. If feasible, it would increase the revenues collected from visitors and provide a way to showcase our community to business leaders. This would be a great addition to current efforts to attract new businesses/jobs.
Parking: The City has completed the third Parking Study since 2002. We commissioned the latest study predicated on our intent to DO something about downtown parking and the face that citizens identified the problem in a city-wide survey and during the Council’s recent goal-setting session. Initial steps will include identifying, naming and providing directional signage for existing parking, modifying parking to increase the number of available spaces and providing safe, alternative parking for downtown employees. Other strategies may include a trolley, hotel shuttles and timed parking during strategic day-parts and during special events. The desire for a parking structure is offset by the potential price tag of $10,000,000 to $20,000,000, but could be considered provided we can identify a revenue stream to pay for it. As Mayor, I will be working with our parking consultants to inform downtown business owners. On my own initiative (and at NO taxpayer expense) I will be posting a survey on this site to gather public input regarding the parking situation.
Growth: After almost a decade of little or no residential growth (check the figures) market conditions and actions by the City Council to facilitate housing at all levels as spurred new interest. Currently three Specific Plan areas are under study. They include the Beechwood project at the southeast corner of the city, as well as the Olsen/Chandler and Chandler Ranch projects which are north of there. All in all, the potential exists for about 2,000 homes to be built. Each project must go through stringent review to insure any negative impacts are mitigated by the developers. None would be built out immediately, but probably in phases in response to market demand. In the final analysis, the City Council will determine the advisability of proceeding with these projects. Environmental Impact Reports will take about year for each project and will be available for public review.
Roads: You may have noticed the repairs taking place on many city streets. This is the direct result of the $.05 sales tax override passed by citizens several years ago and increased General Fund expenditures. Currently we put $5,000,000 to $6,000,000 per year into street repairs. A Citizens Oversight Committee takes public input about street repair prioritization and checks to make sure that monies are being applied to streets as promised. A recent survey indicates that about 60% of the voting public would favor an additional $.05 in sales taxes to spur more repairs and fund other needed services. This may be coming to a ballot near you soon. If you need more information please check the city website (prcity.com) or contact your Councilmen and City Staff.
What else? The seven Mayors of San Luis Obispo County as well as First District Supervisor have signed a “Code of Civility.” Basically, that means we are going to be nice to the public and each other. I’m proud of our history of civic debate in Paso Robles and was more than happy to join this alliance.
Also, I and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Gregory are putting together an exciting fundraiser for August to raise money for shade structures at the Uptown Park playground at the north end of Spring Street. This new park is a terrific addition for kids and families but, as Mr. Gregory puts it, “a playground without shade in Paso Robles is like a swimming pool without water.” On Aug. 25th we will stage “Made in the Shade” at the Rava Winery. Food, libation and entertainment for just $100. Oh, and you get some cool sunglasses, too. Watch for more info on how to get your tickets.
So much news, so little space. Well, we’ll get to the rest of it next time.
Until next we blog, here’s to you Paso Robles!