Screen_Shot_2018-11-13_at_10.21.33_AM.png
ALEX DESPAIN

A plan to improve transit options and decrease the number of cars in central Portland just received a last-minute addition—one that would include investing in more parking options in the city center.

Central City in Motion (CCIM) is an 18-project plan from the Portland Bureau of Transportation that's been a year in the making. CCIM promises pedestrian crossing improvements, redesigned roadways that will better accommodate busses and trucks, and safer biking options in downtown Portland and the Central Eastside, among other things.

The Portland City Council is scheduled to adopt a final CCIM report and implementation plan on Thursday. It will also consider a just-added CCIM parking supply strategy report—one that essentially recommends the city invest in more parking spots, despite CCIM’s focus on making the area more bike, public transit, and pedestrian-friendly.

“CCIM, rightly in my opinion, removes on-street parking in order to make it possible to move many more people in the central city,” said Tony Jordan, founder of transportation advocacy group Portlanders for Parking Reform. “This is more equitable, safe, and in line with our goals to reduce car trips.”

But PBOT's new CCIM parking strategy report—just released Friday, less than a week before its scheduled adoption—lays out nine potential strategies for increasing parking in the city center.

Many of those suggested strategies would serve as temporary transitional measures to keep the area’s number of parking spaces the same, as the city center is expected to lose an estimated two percent of its parking spaces due to CCIM projects. But three proposals would likely add more permanent parking spaces to the area.

One of those proposals suggests the city invest $14 million in capacity improvements for the city’s five public parking garages, called "SmartPark" garages. Another calls for the city to enter public-private partnerships with developers to add up to 200 new publicly accessible parking spaces, estimated at $50,000 a space. And yet another proposal suggests entering similar partnerships with fellow public entities, such as Multnomah County or Portland Public Schools.

According to Jordan, the purpose of projects like CCIM is to improve Portland’s “mode-split goals”—that is, make it so that fewer people are driving and more people are taking transit, walking or biking on any given day. The newly released parking strategy report, Jordan predicted, would undermine those goals.

Support The Portland Mercury

Marshall Runkel is the chief of staff for Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who is the council's newest PBOT liaison. He told the Mercury that “just like the public, our office hasn’t had a chance to dig in to [the report.]”

Runkel added that he expects the council will need more than one hearing before it adopts both CCIM and the accompanying parking strategy. But the first hearing will happen this Thursday.

“We’ve definitely got a lot of work to do in the next couple days,” he said.