ACTION ALERT: send a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject Agenda Item 652: Parking Management Manual. Let City Council know that this is LONG overdue and that you support data-driven parking management for a safer, cleaner, and more prosperous city.
On June 13th, Portland City Council will consider adoption of a set of guidelines aimed at modernizing our parking management policies. The Performance Based Parking Management Manual (PBPM) will inform the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) when creating and managing parking meter districts.
- Eliminate Minimum Parking Requirements
- Price on-street parking so that there is always a space available per block
- Use parking meter revenue in a way that benefits the locality in which it’s collected
Portland is slowly, but surely, reducing and eliminating minimum parking requirements throughout the city, but parking meter rate setting is still a lengthy and political process. Currently, to get a meter rate increase downtown, a stakeholder committee must be convened and city council must approve any rate increases. This was last done in 2016 and the process is so cumbersome that meter rates downtown have only been adjusted 8 times in the last 50 years!
Because of this antiquated and political process, some parking downtown is underpriced, and completely full at peak hours, while other areas have overpriced parking, leading to lower than ideal utilization.
The new process will use a data driven approach to adjust meter rates annually. Observed occupancy in a parking zone of above 85% will trigger a rate increase, while occupancy below 65% will trigger a rate decrease. The rate adjustment will be ±$0.20-$0.60 depending on how congested (or vacant) the parking zone is. The proposal would cap maximum rates at $5.00/hour and set a minimum rate of $1.00/hour in metered areas.
In practice, the average price for an on-street stall downtown will likely decrease. There are many areas in downtown where the current $2.00 rate is too high. This policy will allow cost-sensitive visitors to downtown to seek cheaper parking, perhaps a few blocks away from their destination, or incentivize parking in Smart Park garages. The areas with very high parking demand will see rate increases, but visitors to those areas who choose to pay the higher rate will find their costs offset by greater convenience and less time (and money) spent cruising for parking.
But That’s Not All
Performance-based pricing is the most critical policy outlined in the manual, but there are several other important topics addressed.
Creating New Parking Districts
The manual spells out how new parking districts can be requested and how they will be implemented. Getting meters installed would be a multi-step process starting with time-stays and ensuring multiple opportunities for stakeholders to give input.
Net Meter Revenue Allocation
Charging for on-street parking should not be a tax or a money grab by City Hall. Meter rates should be set to help create functioning and safe commercial districts and to signal that the city values its right-of-way as an essential public resource. The PBPM recommends “a majority of net meter revenue should go to services and programs within the meter district in which they were generated.” In addition, the committee recommended that PBOT review revenue allocation for downtown meter revenue, currently all downtown and Pearl District revenue goes to the general fund.
Time Limits and Loading Zones
The PBPM clarifies and standardizes how time limits and loading zones are determined and adjusted. The city currently has over 40 types of loading zones, the PBPM condenses them to five types.
The manual recommends a data-driven rate schedule for event districts (currently there is one event district, near Providence Park and in-force on Timber’s game days. Rates near the stadium during these hours would be adjusted ±$1.00-$3.00 depending on demand, with a cap at $10/hour.
A HUGE Step In a Great Direction
Overall, this is a comprehensive and well thought out manual. The stakeholder committee included representatives from the Portland Business Alliance, Venture Portland, Portlanders for Parking Reform [Disclosure: the author of this post served on the committee], freight interests, and several downtown neighborhoods. The committee supported the manual unanimously.
Certainly, improvements could be made to the manual. In particular, it may take several years of adjustments for some of the most congested downtown parking zones to see prices that provide relief from congestion. Ultimately, however, the most important policy objective is to depoliticize parking meter rates, and this proposal delivers.
If you agree, send a quick email to email@example.com with subject Agenda Item 652: Parking Management Manual. Let City Council know that this is LONG overdue and that you support data-driven parking management for a safer, cleaner, and more prosperous city.