Archive | December, 2012

Speaking of Things that are Overdue

Someone let the cat out of the bag that the Portland Bureau of Transportation is beginning to explore a street utility fee, local gas tax or other revenue sources to augment or replace declining state gas tax revenues.

All I can say is it’s about time. The Portland Plan makes clear why this is an absolute necessity: our policies for shaping the future of Portland in a way that is healthier, more affordable, more resilient and more sustainable are pushing us to drive less – which in turn undermines our ability to maintain our transportation facilities, since the current revenue stream is based primarily on fuel taxes.

That alone would be enough reason to think about a different way to pay for our streets. But in addition the state gas tax is not indexed to inflation, and increasing fuel economy (another good thing!) further reduces the revenue.

Let’s get on with it! Certainly it’s going to be a challenging conversation with voters, but there’s really no way around it.

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.