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Opinion: The increase of paid parking will be detrimental to downtown Ventura

Rihanna Samples
Starting May 1, 2024, many of the free public parking around the busy downtown area in Ventura Calif. will start charging $1.25 per hour. The switch from free to paid parking has many Ventura residents concerned about how it will impact the shops and the overall atmosphere of downtown.

As the city of Ventura, Calif. continues to expand and build more and more housing to support the growing population, the issue of parking is a question that the Ventura City Council assembled to discuss. The solution reached was to hire an architectural firm to build a six-story parking structure on Palm Street and Santa Clara Street in downtown Ventura, offering 435 parking spaces. Lacking the funds to build this new facet, the city plans to begin implementing paid parking in the majority of downtown to gain the necessary revenue for this plan. 

With a target date of May 1, 2024, the expansion of paid parking downtown is projected by officials to bring in a revenue of around $1.5 million a year. Street parking will rise from $1 to $1.50 an hour, the seven free surface lots will rise to $1.25 an hour and the currently free portion of the parking structure on Santa Clara Street will rise to $1 an hour. While this change will allow for more parking as Ventura rapidly expands and changes, what will this mean for downtown? 

It’s going to make it less fun, less accessible and people just aren’t going to want to give as much business to these local small businesses that don’t have control over this.

— Ashley Newman

Downtown Ventura as we know it now will soon be gone as expansion continues. Downtown is known for its small businesses and quaint shops, offering a charming atmosphere that attracts locals and tourists alike. Whether it’s grabbing a bite to eat, seeing a movie or browsing the shops, there is a plethora of things to do downtown, meaning that many people will meander up and down the streets as they venture into different shops. Foot traffic, which has largely increased since the closure of Main Street, is vital to many small businesses that aren’t well-known, relying on people who pass by on the street. However, as parking becomes increasingly difficult, concerns have arisen about how this will affect downtown. 

For employees who work downtown, free parking can already be difficult to obtain. Trevor-Kane Baum, an employee at LOCAL Vintage, shared her worries about how the increase in parking prices is going to affect her. “I think it will affect me in the long run because I’m trying to save money and it’s already expensive to live in California,” she said. “$1 doesn’t sound too bad, but it’s per hour and I work 10 hours a day. It’s hard to have it coming out of my pocket to pay for parking when I’m working,” she added. 

Similarly, Ashley Newman, an employee at Tiki Girl, has concerns about finding parking for work, especially on weekends, when downtown is at its busiest. “I think this will make getting to my job a lot more challenging and I’ll have to fight for spots that are free, which might possibly make my walk to work even longer,” Newman said. As someone who already finds it challenging to find parking as it is, Newman is worried about how the monetization of most parking will cause increased difficulty. 

On the contrary, some business owners view this change as inevitable. Patricia Logan, the owner of Fiddle & Fern, shared that she does not think the new prices of parking will affect her business. “It’s just another thing to get adjusted to and it’s probably kind of minor in the whole aspect of what’s really going on in the world,” she explained. Although Logan predicts that there are going to be less locals coming downtown, she believes that more visitors from other cities will be coming, as they are already used to paid parking. “I feel like folks should probably separate their emotions from the change and resonate more with the fact that Ventura is growing and we’re going to experience changes like this. The more we embrace it, the better it will be for everybody,” she said. 

However, for the majority of locals who are accustomed to the option of free parking downtown, it is a more pressing issue. Rhea Gill ‘25, a Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) student who enjoys spending time downtown, already sees parking as something that’s hard to come by and worries that the rise of prices will make it increasingly difficult.

“When I go downtown as a teenager, it’s typically just to hang out and not to buy anything so it’s considered a cheap hang out. It’s definitely going to become less of a cheap thrill,” she shared. Sophia Salles ‘25, another student at Foothill Tech, has similar concerns. “I think it will be difficult for people to justify going there as a regular hang-out spot if you have to spend money just to park for a few hours,” they explained.  

As May 1, 2024 rapidly approaches, the discussion of whether or not the expansion of paid parking will be good for Ventura as a whole is a hot topic on the tongues of locals. Despite the positives that Ventura is expanding and changing, this change is not necessarily something to look forward to from a local perspective. For many locals, downtown Ventura is the heart of our city, and the quaint, small-town spirit that makes it so enticing may be fading away as accessibility decreases. The concerns of local residents as well as employees in the downtown area must be taken into consideration as officials continue to implement expansion without regard for how this will change Ventura for the worse. 

What do you think?
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About the Contributors
Julia Brossia
Julia Brossia, Writer
Second-year writer, Swiftie and opossum lover.
Rihanna Samples
Rihanna Samples, Multimedia Editor
A junior who is constantly looking at the world through the lens of a camera.

Comments (1)

Comments on articles are screened and those determined by editors to be crude, overly mean-spirited or that serve primarily as personal attacks will not be approved. The Editorial Review Board, made up of 11 student editors and a faculty adviser, make decisions on content.
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    AaronMar 23, 2024 at 12:46 pm

    I do not shop downtown anymore, I refuse to pay to park