20 Years of Parking Wars Coming to an End?

Or is it just the beginning of the battle royale?

Mayor Adams is ready to take his version of a meters-and-permits plan for NW Portland to City Council on Thursday. The plan is supported by the neighborhood association and opposed by the business association.

I have lots of history with this, although none of it recent. In 2003 I was the point person for the neighborhood association, trying to find common ground with the business association. It fell apart and the business association walked away with zoning to allow construction of six parking structures in areas where they would not otherwise be allowed. There was no on-street management plan.

None of the structures has been built, although one developer has had a building permit for about five years.

I suspect that paid structured parking is simply not viable until parking on-street is priced (meters). Possibly this new plan could provide that push, but I doubt it. The economics of creating parking have only gotten worse in the last ten years, and driving is down. But we’ll see.

For my part, I’m ready. The parking situation in NW can’t begin to get better until there is an on-street management system. At this point I’d take almost any kind of system to get things started. The one being proposed; with meters on NW 21st, NW 23rd and the adjacent residential blocks (residents with permits are exempt from paying at the meters that are back in the residentially zoned areas) coupled with visitor time limits throughout the neighborhood; is not very different than the plan I worked on a decade ago. A TMA (Transportation Management Association) board with pretty broad representation will be in charge and can work on tweaking the details – and I’m sure there will be tweaks.

I doubt the Mayor would be bringing this to Council if he didn’t have the votes – so I look forward to the next phase in NW Parking, whatever it brings – it’s time to move on.

6 Comments

6 Responses to 20 Years of Parking Wars Coming to an End?

  1. Chris I
    December 3, 2012 at 8:39 am Link

    The business association needs to get onboard with this plan. I avoid going to NW Portland if I have to drive, because of the parking issues. Metered parking will discourage some customers, but are they really the customers that you want? If someone isn’t willing to spend $1/hour to park, how much are they going to spend at your business? Until I know I can find parking in NW, I’m not going to drive there. I will ride my bike when the weather is nice, and I will go elsewhere when it isn’t.

  2. Bjorn
    December 3, 2012 at 11:26 am Link

    We drove to see a movie at cinema 21 last month. I would have gladly spent 5 dollars on parking to have avoided driving around for 10 minutes trying to find any empty spot. I don’t know how businesses think that having no available parking is better than having available parking for a nominal fee. I don’t think there should be any limit on how long someone stays though, if you are paying you should be able to park indefinitely and if there aren’t enough open spots just raise the price up a little higher.

  3. Chris Smith
    December 3, 2012 at 11:43 am Link

    Cinema 21 is actually the one location in the neighborhood where I think additional off-street supply is a good idea. The “dinner and a movie” use case needs 3-4 hours of parking while most other uses can be accommodated in 2-3 hours. I supported a structure between MLC and the apartment build facing 21st for this purpose.

  4. al m
    December 3, 2012 at 11:56 am Link

    As long as residents are exempt who cares what they do.

  5. Chris I
    December 3, 2012 at 8:37 pm Link

    Why should residents be exempt? Do they pay extra property taxes in areas with metered parking? I think they should have the opportunity to purchase annual permits for that zone, but they need to be paying something if they are using a public resource.

  6. Chris Smith
    December 3, 2012 at 8:55 pm Link

    There are two segments to the meter zone – primarily commercial and just around the corner, where residents are NOT exempt, and the first block off the avenues in front of residential properties, where residents ARE exempt.

    The point of the 2nd zone is to protect residents from the ‘boundary effect’ of commercial/retail visitors who would park just beyond the commercial metering area in from of residential properties. It’s a kind of soft transition from the meter areas to the visitor time limit areas.

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