For over three decades, NW Portland residents have been complaining of the "parking war." Today, Mayor Sam Adams called a press conference to happily announce a truce: The NW District Parking Plan.
Parking sounds like a boring issue, but how we manage parking is essentially a debate over the best way to use public space—and who should pay for it. This week, a leaked Portland Bureau of Transportation draft budget document suggested filling PBOT's budget hole in part by having Portlanders pay more for parking in high-demand areas and times.
That's a key part of the NW District Parking Plan unveiled today: Installing meters on NW 21st and 23rd and establishing a resident permit system for people who in the area. The proposal also creates a Transportation Management Association for the area. The plan is essentially a reworking of a parking plan the city developed for the district in 2003.
The mayor acknowledged that revenue from meters and permits "doesn't even begin to plug the gap" in PBOT's budget, but revenue is only one of the goals here.
Meters raise money for the city, but they also free up parking—one of the main complaints about NW is that there is not enough parking around the popular bars, stores, and restaurants. In reality, the area has 10,239 parking spaces and a 10% vacancy rate, but much of it either has no time limit or has a time limit of two hours. Only nine percent of the spots in the area have a time limit of an hour or less. If the streets were metered, people would have to move their cars more frequently, freeing up spots.
Traditionally, efforts to install meters on commercial strips in Portland have suffered major backlash from businesses. The business association of NW 21st and 23rd is opposed to this plan, too. But the plan snagged support of some neighborhood leaders by promising that 51 percent of the revenue generated from the meters will stay within the district and will fund transportation projects like better lighting and signage.
Residents and employees of the area would be able to buy parking permits for $60 a year for one permit (and $100 per additional registered vehicle). That could be a drain on low-income residents, noted Commissioner Amanda Fritz, whose Office of Equity is working to amend the plan to address this impact before the proposal goes to council next Thursday, December 6th.
If council passes the plan, the initial phase will begin within the next six months, making parking metered and permitted on SW corner of the district closest to Burnside. The remainder of the plan, if approved, will be implemented in no later than 18 months.