Is this the year we finally get real about parking reform?
The Downtown Advisory Board meets on Thursday the 27th, and they are
looking again at our broken downtown parking system. Since the last pass at reform, more big
box stores have closed and are no longer paying into the parking tax
fund. Cleaning and maintenance costs have also risen. The current
parking tax system is broken and unsustainable and City Staff propose we
transition to a paid parking system. This deserves very serious consideration.
|Is this the year?|
We should remember that both Liberty Plaza and the JC Penney building were connected with covered skywalks to the Chemeketa Parkade, full of free parking. Free parking can't get any more convenient that that! And yet copious free parking has not been any guarantee of success for those businesses and sites.
We should not be afraid to eliminate free parking so that we can focus on resources that actually improve the prospects for downtown business.
Things like housing! If we want more customers downtown, we should have more people living downtown. Downtown should be a live-in destination rather than drive-to destination.
Moving to paid parking is the right move. Maybe this year we can finally do it. (See previous notes on downtown parking here.)
On Wednesday the 26th, the Hearings Officer will evaluate a proposal for a new gas station and convenience store at the intersection of Lancaster and Keubler. The Staff Report recommends approval.
Why are we issuing permits for any new gas stations now? This is new fossil fuel infrastructure and we need to stop creating new instances of that.
"Maintenance" Bond and Gas Tax
|Smuggling "improvements and expansion"?|
This afternoon the 24th, the City and Urban Renewal Agency Committee on Finance meets, and they have a some information on a proposed "maintenance" bond up to $300 million. The general shape of the concept, however, appears to have a good bit of "improvements and expansion" beyond mere maintenance.
This will be a process that deserves very close scrutiny in order to align it with our actual values and goals on climate and housing. A bunch of road widening, for example, would hinder those goals, but the City seems likely to want to smuggle a bunch of that into a "maintenance" bond.
The Committee is also revisiting a concept for a local gas tax, and that is something that also deserves strong consideration. It aligns with our climate goals and could fund better sidewalks, bikelanes, and transit priority in addition to maintenance.