Parking Fee Changes in Santa Barbara Undergo Deep Review by Finance Committee

Downtown Santa Barbara's Parking Lot #5 (edhat file photo)

The downtown parking fees of Santa Barbara could be undergoing significant changes this year as the city grapples with diminishing parking department funds.

According to a city report, at the current pace, these funds will be depleted by next year. As a result, the city’s general fund may have to be tapped into, raising concerns as a forecasted $7-million deficit looms.

Downtown Santa Barbara parking lots and garages have experienced a decline in occupancy and revenue, resulting in deficits since 2020. This trend is expected to continue, with 2025 fiscal year expenditures projected to exceed revenues by $3.8 million.

The current funding model, which includes a period of subsidized parking, has contributed to customer behavior that favors shorter visits to downtown businesses, and competition with free on-street parking has further impacted the financial health of the Downtown Parking Fund, according to the report.

To address these challenges, a new funding and management model is being proposed for the Downtown parking system. This includes introducing priced on-street parking, implementing a “pay-by-plate” system, and using License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology for fee enforcement.

Select streets will feature fees on a “pay-by-plate” basis, where a motorist enters their license plate
number into a mobile payment or self-serve kiosk, selects the duration of their intended stay, and pays fees due. The proposed price is $0.75 per 15 minutes in effect from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, seven days a week.

The proposed changes for parking garages decreases the subsidized time from 75 minutes to 60 minutes with $2.00 per hour after that. A graph of the all suggested changes is below:

City of Santa Barbara staff recommendations to change downtown parking costs to increase revenue (courtesy)

The city staff report states the proposed changes will create a sustainable parking system that serves all users, improves parking turnover, and fosters easy access to Downtown businesses and attractions. However, uncertainties in implementation require a $500,000 transfer from the General Fund to the Downtown Parking Fund to support the changes.

It also acknowledges the potential negative impacts, such as increased parking in residential neighborhoods, and outlines mitigation strategies. The City states it will closely monitor revenues and expenditures and make adjustments and transfers as necessary to maintain adequate reserves.

The responsibility of reviewing the proposed fee adjustments falls upon the Finance Committee. This committee will examine the financial figures, solicit public input, and ultimately advance the item for consideration by the city council.

The final decisions regarding the parking fee changes are expected to be made during the budget vote in June.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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  1. Classic. “Deep review” by anything at the City if SB = stalling by tax-payer funded Lego figures that don’t know how to do their jobs. Make a call boys and girls. Then live with it. That’s how real life works. SB City is off the rails…

  2. This is terrible. There are little places left for our workers to park. Why not look at the bloated parking department. Between modifying the streets for the few bicycles and eliminating resident/worker parking retail downtown will die along with non profits trying to help people. Oh yeah also out of control project approval with no parking. This is a train wreck!!

  3. I can’t afford to pay 5$ every time I make a visit to a downtown medical office! And I certainly won’t pay an extra $5 for every restaurant or movie or shopping visit.

    If they want to kill downtown they’re doing a great job. Open state street, bc if nobody can afford to park they’re not going to come. Smart. /S

    • State Street is already “open”, and allowing cars to dominate the space will do nothing for businesses. But that’s just my opinion. Maybe someday they will indeed allow people to drive their car on those 8 currently car-free blocks, but if you think you’d be saving money by parking your car on State St for free… well I really don’t think that’s how it would work.

  4. Anacapa, Chapala and the cross streets have timed parking (75 to 90 minutes free). If you stay longer you risk a ticket. There is turnover on the street. So, this doesn’t square with what Staff says in the report. They also want it to be vastly more expensive to park in the surface parking lots compared to the parking structures. Surface parking lots 15 mins free, $33 a day max. Parking structures 60 minutes free, $10 a day max. We have a ton of hotel rooms proposed next to the parking structures and the Canary Hotel. These tourists will pay $10 for overnight parking where they would ans should pay $33 today. (Hotels provide NO parking.) This substantial reduction in fees is a total giveaway and makes no sense considering that there is a deficit. (WHO IS PULLING THE STRINGS ON THIS GIVEAWAY?)
    There are other changes that don’t makes sense too. So, write the City Council a email and tell them “No to Metered Parking” and changes like the ones I have mentioned! Email: Clerk@SantaBarbaraCA.Gov, SBCityCouncil@SantaBarbaraCA.Gov

  5. This “future budget” seems to show that City employees will again reap the benefits at the expense of the parking taxpayers. Three quarters of a million dollars are being swept away from city income by not offering City employees the chance to purchase parking permits.

  6. Bring back the Crosstown Shuttle bus, and I’ll be able to get into town that way. I used to take quick trips in to the library, my bank, CVS, etc., but without that shuttle the bus system doesn’t work for me. So now I drive and park. Not sure I’ll do that if it’s going to cost me for parking.

  7. Everyone here has already said what I was going to say. This is a really dumb idea given prices were just raised and they’re already phasing out workers in the booth for the automated machines. Work on the root of the issue first, getting locals to spend time downtown.

  8. Is this the same group of doofusses that are putting Islands in the middle of the streets so you can’t continue through the street? remember the little mini roundabout on Valerio and maybe Olive I think that’s the one where the firetrucks couldn’t get around spent lots of money and next thing you know that’s gone and I think a couple others are gone .It’s kind of strange how they can’t budget they’re spending whatsoever, but they sure can budget the increases what water , sewer, trash rates will be at a year from now or two years from now. all city departments should take a crash course on budgeting and if they can’t budget, they’re out get a replacement We definitely would have a huge shortage of city employees at that point

  9. The garages will be over stressed and the lots will become a stepchild, unless the garage and streets have no space. The garages would have tons of cars going ring around the May poll looking for a space with dangerous high levels of exhaust particles.

    I just calculated the cost of parking in the three venues for two hours. These change recommendation’s were thought up in La La Land!

    Garage $2.00
    Lot $10.50 ( Four hours in the lots would be $22.50.)
    Street $5.25.

  10. Increasing parking cost is a CRAZY idea — people need to park to spend money downtown and this will only discourage visiting downtown creating more empty store fronts, and less tax revenue.
    Now is a good time for the city to come up with a plan to greatly reduce headcount and expenses. . Work on being more efficient and reducing headcount instead.

  11. I am unclear how this is to work. One pays the fee due how? I assume cash is not accepted at these hi tech devices? Can you not park in downtown SB without a credit or debit card? (And is really offensive to say that downtown city parking lots “compete” with free street parking. Wasn’t the point of creating parking lots to relieve street parking. If street parking is adequate to the demand one should wonder why. The lots are clearly excessive to the present consumer interest because people simply don’t want to visit State Street merchants. So we have to drive the ones that do this by forcing them off the “free” stuff and into the “fee” stuff. Really bad governance.

    • Probably you’ll need a credit or debit card. When we visited Copenhagen a few years ago, there were parking zones. You had the app, added the rental car info to the app, and got charged for the zone that you were parked in.

  12. I’ve lived her for 60 years – most of y’all voted for Newsome and our local ‘government’ — congrats! — None of these elected officials care what you express her on ‘The Hat’ — y’all don’t even listen to each other — ok, watch me be disciplined because I don’t ‘fit” into ‘The Hats’ agenda.

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