Residents near downtown Bend say their neighborhood changed dramatically for the worse a few weeks ago.
They told the Bend City Council at Wednesday night’s meeting they suddenly got front row seats to public urination, violence, drug use and people living out of campers. Many also complained that people not from their neighborhood were taking up parking spaces on their streets.
But one solution they proposed has many problems of its own.
When the city introduced new parking restrictions — changes downtown and limited parking on Riverside and Broadway — some people who had parked in those areas shifted over to Congress, Idaho, Kansas and State streets. It happens to be the neighborhood of Mayor Sally Russell.
Former Bend city Councilor Doug Knight pointed out Wednesday he warned the city in December that the new restrictions would simply move the problem. And that is what seems to have happened.
One solution many residents brought up is implementing a residential parking program for that historic district neighborhood. In such a parking program, residents could be issued or be able to purchase permits to enable them to park in their neighborhood beyond posted limits. The city has discussed the concept. As of a few months ago, the city didn’t have any plans to implement one anywhere in Bend in the next two years, because city staff are busy doing other things.
Beyond the staffing issues, there are other problems. For one, residents don’t own the street in front of their own home. That’s public property. Also why would it be fair to entitle residents of one neighborhood to special parking privileges without doing the same for the entire city? Knight called his neighborhood one of the city’s most important. Really? Which are Bend’s less important neighborhoods? A change in policy in his neighborhood would shift the parking issues to other neighborhoods, just as he had warned before.
Some residents also called for the city to tighten up its restrictions on “abandoned” vehicles. People can essentially park on a street for 15 days, which is not otherwise posted, before the city will impound the vehicle. The council could clamp down on that restriction, shortening the timeline. If the city does that, it shouldn’t just do it in certain neighborhoods.
The Bend City Council plans to hold a work session at its May 1 meeting to discuss options. Whatever changes the city makes, it needs to ensure it is fair to the whole city — not just the neighborhood of those who are complaining.