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Officials say higher rates would encourage more turnover, less frustration for shoppers seeking spots.

PMG PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - From March 2020 to July 2021, you no longer had to plug a meter to park in downtown Oregon City, although officers still checked for illegal parking in disabled zones.

This summer, Oregon City commissioners will consider recommendations to increase rates for parking downtown to encourage turnover of shoppers and diners.

City officials say parking fees help encourage use of downtown spaces for short-term, limited-duration parking.

Oregon City has shown surprising resilience against the pandemic's effect on businesses, as shown by comparing parking availability downtown in 2016 with 2021. Downtown parking availability is higher in the morning compared with five years ago, but afternoon times are often more crowded, and people looking to park at dinnertime on Saturdays are now in danger of leaving town in frustration due to the lack of available spots.

"COVID is showing this impact, but it's not as significant as what we've seen in other cities," said parking consultant Rick Williams in presenting the parking data this month.PMG PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Oregon City still has some meters that only accept coins, but the city recently added a mobile payment option, and parking can be purchased with credit cards at nearby sites.

Recommendations for city commissioners will include increasing rates for parking passes (generally purchased by downtown employees), eliminating on-street areas where people can park all day and making all downtown parking cost $1 per hour at meters. Currently, there are a few meters in downtown Oregon City where you can park for 50 cents an hour.

"A dollar is still a very affordable rate within the area," consultant Pete Collins said.

Downtown business representatives raised concerns about increased rates for employees who often work at minimum wages. Williams suggested stratifying rates for parking passes to encourage employees to take public transit or to park farther from the downtown core.

In recognition that fewer visitors are carrying coins to plug meters, Oregon City recently added a mobile parking-payment option called HotSpot. HotSpot signs are installed, and mobile payments are now being accepted. The option to pay by card and coin remains available at meters and kiosks.

Visitors can scan a QR code or download the HotSpot Mobile App to pay for parking.

HotSpot notifies visitors when their meters are close to expiring, giving the option to add more time, up to the maximum, for the space, and the ability to store vehicle and payment information in the app to save time.

Oregon City got $854,122 in revenue from parking and code-enforcement fees from 2017-19, up $789,268 from the 2015-17 biennium, which was nearly equal to the approximately $790,200 in revenue from the 2019-21 amended budget.

City budgets went without revenue from parking meters from March 2020 to July 2021 to prevent people from having to touch meters in downtown Oregon City, potentially spreading COVID-19 on those surfaces. City officials said the suspension of fines was also an effort to support restaurant pickup and delivery services, as in-person restaurant dining was banned for months under Gov. Kate Brown's orders to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

City officials continued to enforce two-hour time limits, disabled parking, 10-foot clearance zones around fire hydrants, loading zones and other "no parking" zones to promote safety.

Metered parking spaces are active from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but the city will be considering a charge for parking during busy weekend times as well. Learn more at orcity.org.


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