The Bend City Council is set to adopt a policy on Wednesday that will surely lead to paid street parking all over the city.
It wouldn’t happen overnight. But it’s coming, because councilors are going to vote on adopting the recommendations of the citywide parking study. And that is the direction the study recommends.
Sure, parking in Bend can be frustrating. It’s not clear that the study is the best answer, let alone a good answer. How many people even know what’s in it? It’s not even linked to in the agenda for the meeting. Councilors shouldn’t make such a dramatic change without allowing a substantial public debate.
The study is packed with recommendations. The assumptions underlying it include “to balance parking with all other forms of access,” such as bicycling, transit and walking. Does balancing mean all forms of transportation are all equal — even though most people in Bend use cars to get to work and do shopping?
The study also favors creation of residential and business parking zones. Residents and businesses would be provided with or required to purchase parking permits to park on the street without adhering to the posted restrictions in neighborhoods where they live or operate. It’s hard to imagine such permits will be free. If the zones are going to work, they need signs and regular enforcement. That costs money, and the city will want to raise the revenue to pay for it all.
The creation of residential parking zones would be ostensibly a democratic process, which is good. Sixty percent of residents or renters would have to vote for it in an area. But the recommended process would hand off a great deal of power about the parking district to the leadership of the local neighborhood association — such as setting up a parking committee, providing direction on fees and so on. Did you remember voting for who runs your neighborhood association? Why would the city hand such power to people who were not democratically elected?
The city parking study also contains quote after quote of the policies of California’s Palo Alto and Riverside. But there is no justification for holding up those places as the parking model for Bend’s future.
Nobody likes driving around and looking for parking. And it can be inconvenient to have all parking spots on the street right in front of a home taken. But the streets belong to everyone. The city shouldn’t sell exclusive rights to park on the street.