Portland City Council to Consider $0.40/hour Meter Rate Increase

On Thursday December 17, 2015 the Portland City Council will consider an increase of $0.40/hour to downtown parking meters, effective the end of January 2016.

Here are the ordinance and supporting materials.

I encourage Portland Shoupistas to support this increase in person or via email testimony.

When: Thursday, December 17, 3-4 PM. Time Certain.

Where: Council Chambers, 1221 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97204

You may also submit written testimony in advance of the hearing. To be included in the official public record, email written testimony to the Council Clerk at: cctestimony@portlandoregon.gov

Testimony sent to this email address will also be forwarded to City Council members and their staff.

Several members of the committee will be giving invited testimony to support this increase.  If you come down in person, be sure to say hello!  If you’re wondering why we support this, or looking for some talking points, read further.

Why should we raise rates now?

The Central City Parking Policy Update SAC is likely, on 12/14 to recommend that the city develop a performance pricing policy.  If council agrees, we’ll see a committee formed next year to develop policy with PBOT staff.  We have a good chance at making a really good recommendation.  In the interim, parking occupancy surveys show that many areas of downtown experience peak occupancy that is greater than 85%, meaning there aren’t any spaces open on the block.  Since we don’t have an easy way to only raise rates on those blocks, we’re recommending an increase all over. Graph of occupancy survey showing higher demand than in 2008 at two peak periods.  Demand is greater than 85% twice a day.

But won’t this destroy businesses and hurt our service employees?

Next time you are in a restaurant downtown, ask your server where they park.  It’s probably not on the street near where they work.  After you ask that, consider who is likely to tip more after a meal, someone who was willing to pay $2/hour to park nearby, or the person who decided they were going to Denny’s to save $0.40/hr.   Employees have access to overnight parking in SmartPark garages for $5 a night, right now, and the city will be exploring monthly overnight passes for service employees.

As for business in general, we’re trying to provide the best experience possible for consumers with the finite on-street parking we have.  I believe there will be areas of downtown where the rate will be too high, all the more reason to fast-track performance pricing.

Isn’t this just a revenue grab?

It could be!  We should submit and give testimony that demands the additional revenue be used in a smart way.   One thing the Council could do is direct that PBOT undertake some pilot programs in the areas most likely to be over/under priced.  Implementing some performance pricing in these areas over the next 12 months could provide PBOT with invaluable data for developing policy.  This is probably NOT on their radar and would be a great thing to mention.

What should I say in my testimony?

That’s up to you, but some things to consider:

  • Parking on-street for 3 hours is currently $4.80, parking in SmartPark for 3 hours is $5, taking the bus is $5 for a 3 hour trip.  This increase is more in line with charging appropriate prices for more convenient modes of travel. See our previous article on the topic.
  • PBOT staff did a survey of evening parkers to determine the effect they found that only 8% of evening parkers downtown were low-wage workers.
  • Parking meter rates have not been increased since 2009.
  • Raising rates will provide information on the elasticity of demand for parking.
  • And, most importantly, this increase is supported by occupancy rates and smart policy.  Reducing vehicle miles due to cruising and incentivizing other modes of travel are long-standing city policy.



2 Responses to “Portland City Council to Consider $0.40/hour Meter Rate Increase

  • This increase makes sense, since demand exceeds supply, but the pilot project you suggest is right on. Why would the council want to subject themselves to votes on parking pricing rather than just set criteria and allow staff to adjust prices administratively to manage demand?

Trackbacks & Pings

Leave a Reply