We blew it in not letting our church family know about the SLO City proposal to start charging for meters and structure parking on Sundays at 11:00 AM. This came up back in 2006 and we were involved in fighting it. It didn't pass then, but with city revenues down considerably, the issue has arisen again.
A couple of weeks ago, we were informed about the proposal. I wrote and sent the following letter back to the Parking Coordinator and then also sent it to other downtown churches to alert them of the proposal.
March 28, 2011
Mr. Robert Horch
Parking Services Manager
1260 Chorro St., Suite B
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Dear Mr. Horch,
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the proposed changes to the current Sunday parking regulations. We appreciate our thoughts being represented to the City Council. We understand that parking fees and regulations have been a topic of consideration for a number of years. Our former Business Administrator, Kathy Borland, served on a parking task-force committee in the past. We also understand the financial challenges faced by the City of San Luis Obispo in these tough economic times.
The leadership of Grace Church, San Luis Obispo strongly opposes the city’s proposal to begin charging for metered and garage parking on Sunday mornings. This proposal will have a huge, adverse impact on our community of faith, and, we believe, on the downtown community, as a whole..
Between our two Sunday morning services at 9:00 and 10:45 AM, we serve over 1000 people, hundreds of who often stick around downtown for lunch and shopping. The proposal to charge for parking beginning at 11:00 AM on Sundays will undoubtedly trigger a decline in our Sunday service attendance as well as a decline in downtown activity afterward. If our congregants have to pay for parking, they will likely leave the downtown area and move to another part of town with free parking for lunch. We’re certain downtown restaurants and other merchants will see a drop in their revenue. Furthermore, since we are only one of several downtown churches, this decline in revenue and adverse impact on downtown will be compounded
Since our second service starts at 10:45 AM, if meters turn on at 11:00 AM, our congregants will have to start paying early, or leave during a service to put money in the meters. That would be the case if meters turned on at noon, as well, since our later service is not out until 12:15 PM.Another factor to consider is that people will be forced to park further out from downtown, creating overflow in the neighborhoods. We’re certain residents will not look upon that favorably.
It is a pleasure and convenience to be able to eat, shop and enjoy downtown on Sunday without having to pay to park. If there are no other options for increasing city revenues, we recommend a compromise and start charging for parking at 1:00 PM on Sunday. This would allow our church members, as well as other downtown churches to park for free while attending services.
Thank you for your consideration. Please keep us updated on this issue and opportunities to express our position before the SLO City Council.
Grace Church, SLO
Yesterday KSBY did a piece on the issue and asked if they could interview me. Here's the piece. . . . as usual they edited as desired, but it's neat to see GraceSLO all over the place in the background. . .
Last night the SLO City Council took up the issue, heard community feedback and then voted. Our own Phil Gray spoke on behalf of GraceSLO. In light of the community feedback, the proposal was amended to begin charging for parking at 1:00 PM instead of 11:00 AM. This is still a bummer, but way better than in the middle of our second service. The change goes into affect in July.
Here's the post vote KSBY piece. . .
We are praising the Lord for this around here and consider this an answer to prayer. Many thanks to Phil Gray for showing up and taking leadership in this matter. In retrospect, I wish I would have said something last Sunday morning in our services, so that others might have had an opportunity to pray and show up at the council meeting. I really wanted to be there myself, but just couldn't pull it off. We were praying as a family throughout the evening.