Drivers whose trucks and SUVs are too long for angled parking spaces in downtown Bend will no longer receive warnings or tickets, and those who’ve been fined for blocking traffic will get their money back.

The city of Bend stepped up enforcement to address problems with oversize or poorly parked vehicles blocking traffic since July, when Wall and Bond streets were repaved and repainted. Since, hundreds of drivers have received warnings, and 27 were given a $50 ticket.

All of those tickets are being voided, and four drivers who paid their tickets will get refunds, according to a note City Manager Eric King sent city councilors this week.

“There was a disconnect between the intent and how it was being enforced,” he said at Wednesday’s Bend City Council meeting.

The city is temporarily suspending enforcement of the policy, but it intends to prevent parked cars from blocking travel lanes, according to King’s memo.

Drivers often have to swerve to avoid trucks extending into traffic lanes on Wall and Bond streets, according to comments from a parking study completed this summer.

The two-lane one-way streets have diagonal parking on both sides. Oregon Avenue also has diagonal parking between Bond Street and Hawthorne Avenue.

The angled stalls are a standard 19.5 feet, still a bit longer than most large SUVs or pickups. But adding a bike rack to the back of a car or truck or failing to pull all the way forward could violate the city’s suspended policy.

Suspending the policy is a good idea, said Councilor Nathan Boddie, who previously said the city shouldn’t enforce any traffic laws without making sure drivers know the rules and have clear signs.

“That really was built to set people on fire,” Boddie said. “It’s not what was intended, and it’s not a good idea for how people get around Bend.”

The city clarified its downtown parking policy once since July, giving drivers a clean slate and allowing those who had been warned to receive another warning before any tickets.

The warnings and tickets discouraged customers of downtown businesses, said Rod Porsche, executive director of the Downtown Bend Business Association. He asked the city to stop warnings and tickets until it can be sure Diamond Parking, the company that enforces parking violations downtown, understands how to enforce the policy.

“We have a lot of SUVs,” Porsche said. “We have a lot of trucks in the city, and we need to be welcoming to these folks.”

Downtown business owners, many of whom work behind the counter at their shops and talk to customers, have heard a lot from customers who were confused or frustrated by the parking policy, he said.

“As a downtown organization, we welcome your large SUVs,” Porsche said. “A Chevy Avalanche should be able to park downtown.”

At 18.4 feet, a Chevrolet Avalanche would be a tight fit in angled downtown parking spaces. However, large vehicles are able to park without impeding traffic in the downtown parking garage, in parallel spots on other downtown streets and in the Mirror Pond parking lots.

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

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