Employees shouldn’t have to pay for parking while they’re at work

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN


Laura Luevanos

The parking garage at the Paseo Nuevo mall on Sept. 16 in the downtown area of Santa Barbara, Calif. Downtown employees don’t have reserved or validated parking and must pay the full hourly rate for their whole shift.

Laura Luevanos, Staff Writer

The environment of downtown Santa Barbara is always busy and social, which makes parking a nightmare for employees who work in the shop-lined street.

I believe the city of Santa Barbara should have discounted or validated parking for downtown workers. 

Searching for a free space is only a matter of luck as there are multiple street signs marking off days and times when parking is prohibited. 

After working long shifts, paying a day’s worth of parking is not ideal for full-time employees. 

I’ve dealt with many parking problems as an employee of the downtown Backyard Bowls. I’ve had tickets placed on my windshield and almost got my car towed — all while I was at work. 

I have to park in the lot located across from where I work when there is no other option available. Every time I work, I pay about $13 after an 8-hour shift. It’s stressful and a hindrance, especially for those living on a student’s budget. 

Many City College students also express their struggles with parking downtown. 

“Just to come to work I have to pay $12 a day,” said City College student Gloria Tibbets. “As I work throughout the week, it stacks up so much.” 

The average amount spent on parking per day nearly costs an hour’s worth of minimum wage. That’s about $60 at the end of the week for a full-time employee. 

Downtown’s nine parking lots and five parking structures are located around the city’s most visited areas. The lots – aside from weekends and holidays – don’t usually get full and have a decent amount of spaces left.

These spaces could potentially be filled with employee parking if there was a better solution to the payment.

The city currently provides parking permits to assist employees with parking rates.

However, this program is not cost-efficient for a minimum wage employee. The permits can be up to $250 and don’t apply to all of the available lots. 

This leaves no other option but to either pay the $12 at the end of the day, park on the streets or in the neighborhoods near downtown. 

City College student and Zumiez manager Charles Found mentioned concerns for the safety of his employees, especially if they work late and have to walk back to their cars after work. 

“They gotta walk back 20 minutes, it’s dark, there’s weird people out here sometimes. I don’t need my co-workers getting harassed.” 

Not only is it a financial issue, but it’s also a safety issue. With the lots being close to the stores, the distance from the lots makes it safer for employees. Walking alone at night after a shift can be an open door to threats. 

On the other hand, having employees park in the lots could become an obstacle for visitors and customers.

Resident and downtown regular, Llanelli Carrillo, commented on the issue saying, “Having a large amount of employees park in the lots could bring in less amount of customers and could overfill the parking lots, especially if the employees work in the main businesses near Paseo Nuevo.”

As a downtown employee, it would be ideal to have a more convenient way to pay for parking or find parking near my job. I think it would not only benefit me but many other employees who struggle with it every day.