If you go

What: Galveston parking study open house

When: Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.; presentation at 5:15 p.m.

Where: Westside Village Magnet School, 1101 NW 12th St, Bend

Crowding along Galveston Avenue in Bend leads to parked cars illegally blocking driveways or intersections even as streets a few blocks away sit half-empty, according to results from a parking study that will be shared Wednesday at an open house event.

A consulting group collected data on a Thursday and Saturday in August and a Tuesday in September from a 23-block area surrounding Galveston Avenue between Harmon Avenue and 15th Street. The area, a mix of mostly single-family homes and businesses including 10 Barrel Brewing, is near the Deschutes River and sees a mix of residents, employees, customers and park visitors who stash their cars and leave the area.

The city decided to study parking along Galveston in response to anecdotal reports from residents and visitors in the area, Bend Senior Planner Karen Swirsky said.

“People were complaining a lot,” she said. “There’s a lot of concern.”

The parking study area contains 912 total parking spaces, of which 604 are unregulated on-street spots, said Rick Williams, head of the group that conducted the study. Another 307 are off-street spaces, split between 33 small commercial parking lots, and one is a marked on-street stall for disabled drivers.

“That’s not a lot of parking if you think about it,” Williams said.

Consultants tracked turnover time and tried to separate residents from visitors to the area by checking which license plates were on the street in the middle of the night.

“We collected every license plate parked on the street every hour on the hour between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.,” Williams said. “We also came back at 2 a.m.”

Just from being in the area, Williams said consultants noticed a lot of congestion and illegal parking. And a lack of sidewalks forced people to walk in the streets, exacerbating congestion.

“People are parking halfway across driveways,” he said. “People are parking in the crosswalks. People are blocking intersections.”

The parking industry considers an area to have a constrained supply if 85 percent or more of the available spaces are regularly filled during the peak hour, or period when the most vehicles are parked. Ideal occupancy rates for commercial areas would have between 55 and 85 percent of spots filled during the peak hour, meaning there’s enough traffic to support businesses while also leaving enough available parking spaces so customers aren’t frustrated.

During peak hours, on-site lots at businesses such as 10 Barrel and Aspect Boards and Brews were above 85 percent occupancy, as were some streets around them. On the Thursday night in August, for instance, both sides of 12th Street between Galveston and Elgin avenues, as well as an adjacent block on Fresno Avenue, were so crowded that parked cars filled all of the available spaces, and were illegally parked in other spots.

Owen Ronchelli, a member of the consulting group, said this type of illegal parking is common in congested areas.

“Particularly in congested areas, we’ll see illegal parking,” he said. “People get frustrated, so they’ll either drive around and find a parking space or decide to risk it.”

This creates a box of hard-to-find parking inside the area, while driving just a block or two away from businesses toward a more residential section would find blocks less than 55 percent full.

“The perception of the entire district is probably being influenced by the box,” Williams said.

Other off-street parking lots sit empty or half-empty during peak hours, but those private lots are typically posted with signs designating the lot for customers of that business only.

About one-sixth of the total on-street parking spaces — 100 spots in all — are in front of mailboxes, and some residents have tried to discourage other drivers from parking in front of their mailboxes with official-looking, though illegal, signs.

“There is no legal restriction for anybody that you can’t park in front of a mailbox,” Williams said.

Residents in the area, who take up about 30 percent of on-street parking spaces, could pull their cars into driveways if they have them, he said. However, Monte Payne, a retired firefighter who moved to his home on Federal Street nine years ago, said his neighbors park on the street as “guerrilla warfare” to slow down cars that speed down their narrow road.

“The infrastructure’s terrible, that’s the problem,” Payne said. “It’s an old neighborhood with narrow streets, and the only thing we can think of to do is park out there. We’ve all lost a mirror.”

Payne said he was really glad the city did the parking study, which reaffirmed what he and his neighbors see every day.

“It’s pretty obvious to the people that live there,” he said. “I’m there all the time. I’m retired, so I see it.”

Based on the data, the city could consider clearly marking stalls and painting curbs on streets in the area, something it now only does downtown, Swirsky said. At that point, it could start issuing tickets for parking violations.

“If there’s not really clear signage, your tickets just get thrown out and it’s a waste of enforcement,” she said.

Creating a residential parking permit zone and commercial parking district, as found in other cities, would also be an option, she said, but no action could be taken without approval from the Bend City Council. At this point, the group is just presenting data to the public and wrapping up a citywide parking study.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160; jshumway@bendbulletin.com

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