Sam Adams has been pushing metered parking in neighborhood business districts. His pitch is that is it not only helps support improved livability but that it also increases sales by encouraging more turnover (and he has studies to back it up). Even after all the scar tissue I accumulated trying to make meters part of the failed parking plan in NW Portland, I’m generally in agreement with Sam’s sentiments.
But it doesn’t seem to be going down well. Thursday’s O has a brief blurb (not online) about a study by the St. Johns business association saying there is no need for metered parking (parking is not saturated, so there’s no turnover benefit). And there’s a longer piece in this week’s Mercury about active opposition forming on Hawthorne.
You’re going to have to sell harder, Sam!
10 responses to “Meters in Neighborhood Business Districts Not Exactly on Fire”
Chris His pitch is that is it not only helps support improved livability but that it also increases sales by encouraging more turnover (and he has studies to back it up)
JK: That makes a good case for enforcing 1-2 hour time limits, not meters. But the city is trying to make driving more expensive in hopes of forcing people into even more expensive(real cost) mass transit.
If I have to pay to park or, cannot park within a short distance, I go elsewhere. The sole exception is government meetings.
Did anyone notice that Barns & Noble moved from the nearby street to inside Lloyd center? I asked why the move and was told it was because of parking.
Parking meters are substantially easier to enforce. To ticket someone for a an over-time violation in a time-limited area, you need to observe the vehicle twice, once to ascertain a start time, and again after the time limit is exceeded. Of course, you are generally going to ascertain the start time some finite period after the vehicle arrived, so enforcement is less effective and at least twice as costly.
With a meter, you only need one observation, of the expired meter or paystation sticker.
History demonstrates a whole different story than Sam wants you to believe. When the City thought it was smart to add parking meters in the Hollywood District in the 1960s, business was devastated. Eventually the meters were removed in favor of time limits, but the damage was done. The removal of some parking in Hollywood along Sandy Boulevard and other streets in the 1980s that part of a Hollywood Transportation Plan that reconfigured streets in conjunction with the opening of Max was another blow to business in the district. The Hollywood District has never returned to its pre meter vitality, and yet the third wave of damage is well on up the boulevard – that being the addition of curb extensions on Sandy. The obstructive monster at 42nd and Sandy, only a couple of years old, has already added significant congestion to the central part of the Hollywood District. I have personally observed it!
Another tale tell sign is that parking meters hurt business is the so-called smart park programs downtown. If it is still in place (I no longer shop downtown so I don’t know) businesses would validate an hour of parking at one of the City owned garages if a specific dollar amount was spent with them.
Parking Meters only hurt business.
Wait, aren’t you guys the same ones who keep saying that bikes and pedestrians should ‘pay their way?’ Now you don’t want automobile parking to be charged, but it should be completely subsidized for free?
I – and many others – find that reasoning highly hypocritical. You pick your favorites, I suppose.
for some reason most car advocates cloak their arguments in conservative or “free market” terms, when in actuality, it is a debate over priorities (mostly economic, sometimes social or cultural).
The problem with neighborhood parking meters is that these small business districts have to compete with strip malls and shopping centers that offer free parking. If we want businesses to locate in walkable neighborhoods we aren’t going to do it if we cut off access to customers with motor vehicles.
or some reason most car advocates cloak their arguments in conservative or “free market” terms, when in actuality, it is a debate over priorities (mostly economic, sometimes social or cultural).
I agree, but its equally a mistake for those of us who advocate alternatives to do the same thing.
The issue of whether or not parking meters should be used is a complex one. Having lived in downtown Eugene for most of the 1990’s, I saw first hand how the business community was adversaly effected by both the elimination of free parking and the reduction in parking validation programs.
The writings of Robert Cervero have mostly changed my mind. The upscale boutiques and unique cafes are not going to leave Hawthorne or NW 23rd for the free parking promise land of 82nd Avenue.
My office is currently located on Hawthorne Boulevard, and it doesn’t surprise me that many of the local shop owners are opposed to parking meters. A large percentage of the prime on-street parking spaces are not used by shoppers, but by the people that work here. Lax and infrequant parking enforcement means that there is little deterrant for not parking in the same prime spot all day.
More frequent turnover at parking spaces would help cycle more customers through the area.
The owner of one restaurant on Hawthorne even parks his truck by his front door and uses it to pitch garbage into during the course of the business day. Clearly the local business district would benefit from new parking rules and enforcement. The easiset way to finance this enforcement is for there to be parking meters.
it seems like installation of parking meters on neighborhood shopping streets will just push a lot of the cars out onto the neighborhood side streets where they will be able to park for free and for an indefinite amount of time. (this is probably obvious.) my main point is that in these old neighborhoods (like hawthorne) the residents don’t all have offstreet parking and if they do it is typically only for one car. higher volumes of non-residents parking further down the side streets are going to make it harder and harder to park in front of your house. i live between hawthorne and division and can’t even fit my car (or my husband’s) in our “driveway” we feel bummed when someone parks in front of our house and we have to park in front of our neighbor’s houses. we are free to park anywhere obviously but we all know each other’s cars and it is a sort of unspoken ettiquette to leave their parking strips for them to use. it would really be a drag for all of us if people start parking there to go shopping.
i am not concerned that hawthorne business will wither and die if meters are installed. because i don’t think it will. i think it will have a real impact on the livability of the neighborhoods though
the meter plan includes the possibility of permits for those who live on neighborhood streets that may be affected by parking meter evaders. i believe it’s up to the “stakeholders”; ie: the neighborhoods, and local business associations.
Responding mostly to Terry:
“History demonstrates a whole different … When the City thought it was smart to add parking meters in the Hollywood District in the 1960s, business was devastated.”
Question: how long were the meters in place?
Comment: This example is of limited utility – transportation patterns and methods have changed significantly in 40 years, both locally and in general.
“The obstructive monster at 42nd and Sandy, only a couple of years old, has already added significant congestion to the central part of the Hollywood District.”
Good – it’s doing it’s job, then. Sandy is extremely dangerous to pedestrians, and if we want them to spend money in Hollywood, then they *need* to be able to cross Sandy safely. If Sandy becomes more congested due to the reduction in speed and increased caution of drivers, then those looking to pass through the area will switch to “faster” streets, and a higher percentage of traffic on Sandy in Hollywood will be locals and those who wish to shop there.
“Another tale tell sign is that parking meters hurt business is the so-called smart park programs downtown.”
Comment: I wouldn’t call that a tell-tale sign – Smart Park hasn’t reduced the number of parking meters, nor changed the fact that 90% of the day and night there still are very few vacant meters. Also, the presence of Smart Park programs may indicate that parking *garages* are hurting business, not necessarily parking meters. One of the big problems is that the situation is complex and has too many variables to say with any certainty either way. Your example of Hollywood from 1965-ish to 1985-ish is a good example: The addition and removal of meters, construction of the MAX and removal of parking on Sandy are three different major variables. During that time, Multnomah County also added 200,000 people, many on the other side of Hollywood from downtown who now commute to and from work through that neighborhood. Let’s look at the number of vehicle trips in 1960 and in 2000 and account for those changes before saying authoritatively that “Plan X” will or will not work.
You can’t just make a blanket statement that meters hurt business, because it’s simply not true in all cases. It may not even be true in a majority of cases. Each neighborhood is individual, with different traffic patterns, trip start and endpoints, and shopping patterns. In the case of Hawthorne, the city would probably need to institute a pilot program, say from the Baghdad theatre to 2 blocks west. Run it for 6 months, and see how it affects businesses on Hawthorne up to 4 blocks in either direction from the metered area. Then we might have an actual idea of the impact on Hawthorne, which may or may not match potential impacts on Sellwood, Westmoreland, Belmont, Clinton, Hollywood or wherever.
If it is still in place (I no longer shop downtown so I don’t know) businesses would validate an hour of parking at one of the City owned garages if a specific dollar amount was spent with them.
Parking Meters only hurt business.