The city of Bend could require new restaurants to add more parking spaces, following a citywide parking study that found many restaurants have more customer cars than space to park them.

Overall, a citywide parking study found that Bend’s supply of parking spaces is in line with demand for parking spaces. But when looking specifically at restaurants, demand can far outpace the number of spaces required by city code.

That won’t come as a surprise to Bend residents who live near hot spots like 10 Barrel Brewing on Galveston Avenue or Worthy Brewing off U.S. Highway 20 and are used to narrow streets crowded with patrons’ cars. Code changes proposed by a city consultant and shared with the Bend City Council this month wouldn’t apply to existing businesses, but they could address the next 10 Barrel or Worthy, Bend Senior Planner Karen Swirsky said.

Rick Williams Consulting, which completed parking studies for the city, suggested Bend increase its minimum off-street parking requirement for standalone restaurants from five spots per 1,000 square feet to six spaces per 1,000 square feet.

“It’s not a big change, but it’s a change,” Swirsky told the City Council.

Consultants looked at 20 restaurants built in Bend in the past decade. They found that the demand for parking at 15 of the 20 restaurants exceeds the number of spaces provided.

This discrepancy stands out more at restaurants that stand alone than ones that are part of other shopping centers. While patrons of Worthy Brewing park on nearby residential streets when the parking lot is full, people eating at Red Robin in the Old Mill District can use parking spaces in an Old Mill District lot.

“At their peak, they may exceed the number of spaces that code requires for a restaurant, but because they’re part of a shopping center, people can park anywhere,” Swirsky said.

Raising the minimum also raises the maximum number of parking spaces. City code mandates the maximum number of spaces in a surface parking lot can’t be more than 50 percent more than the minimum, meaning a 1,600-square-foot restaurant now has to provide at least 8 parking spaces but no more than 12. If the minimum increases as suggested, a new restaurant of the same size would need to provide at least 9 spaces and no more than 14.

City councilors said they were interested in changing the policy and perhaps coupling it with expanded residential parking permit areas. Such an area now exists downtown, where residents who don’t have driveways or garages can receive permits that allow them to park longer than the two-hour limit applied to all other vehicles.

Any parking code changes would likely be packaged with other changes and go through review from the city’s planning commission before they reach the City Council, Swirsky said.

Increasing the minimum number of parking spaces for some restaurants would raise costs for new restaurants and make it harder for restaurants to be built on smaller lots. That’s a tradeoff some on the City Council, including Councilor Justin Livingston, are willing to make.

“I don’t think we should be subsidizing businesses with parking in the right-of-way, and that’s essentially what’s happening,” he said.

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

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