SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -

A new proposal in Santa Cruz could mean you'll be paying more for street parking.  It still needs approval but pricing guidelines are already laid out.  On Saturday, NewsChannel 5 spoke with residents who think it may hurt local businesses.

After eight years of absorbing about $1.6 million dollars worth of debt, the Santa Cruz Public Works Department said its forced to make a change.  So it's looking to increase parking rates at some meters and costs for parking permits in the downtown area.  Some residents think it could have a negative effect.

"I don't think the local people and I don't even think the tourists will.  I think it will really hurt the downtown businesses," said resident Darlene.

The Downtown Parking District said in addition to the ongoing debt, about $2 million dollars worth of repairs are needed to the top decks of two parking structures because of water damage.

Businesses we spoke with are certain residents and visitors will notice the fee increase and may choose to park further away.

"I think that's too much of an increase.  Right now it’s reasonable and affordable and I think it draws people to the merchants downtown," Darlene said.

The cost to park could double.  What used to cost you fifty cents an hour, would now cost you a buck.  The city is careful to point out, parking meter rates would still be lower than those in Monterey, Capitola, San Jose and Berkeley.

An increase is something the parking district said it hasn't done in more than twenty years.  One long-time resident said she remembers when parking used to be free.

"That seems like a big jump.  People like to shop the little shops.  It just sort of discourages folks from shopping downtown because you can park free in Capitola," said resident Margot Kipps.

The parking rate increases will be presented at the Downtown Commission meeting next week.  They would still need final approval by the City Council in September.