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Elected officials schedule June 1 meeting to discuss possible increases in rates

Oregon City commissioners have scheduled a June 1 meeting to consider recommendations to increase rates for parking downtown to encourage turnover of shoppers and diners.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.

On the bluff near the top of the Municipal Elevator, the parking consultants found that more enforcement is needed for people who know they can get away with parking for more than two hours at a time. With spaces taken up by long-term parking, there's no room for people who want to make a quick trip downtown or those who might not be able to park blocks away from their destinations because they might be carrying groceries and/or small children.

Metered parking spaces currently are active from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but the city will consider a charge for parking during busy weekend times as well.

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.Commissioners will discuss the results of a September 2021 study showing parking spaces were occupied during each hour, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, including weekends.

Consultants found that people looking to park at dinnertime on Saturdays are now in danger of leaving town in frustration due to the lack of available spots.

City officials say parking fees help encourage use of downtown spaces for short-term, limited-duration parking, but employees often use most of the spots conveniently close to businesses, thereby hampering downtown commerce.

Recommendations for city commissioners 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, and the parking consultants said that a dollar-an-hour rate would still be "very affordable" when compared to other downtown areas.

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 often are more crowded.

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

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.

Commissioners' June 1 work session is not intended for public comment, but public hearings are expected before any changes are implemented this fall. If you have questions or comments, email them to city staff before the meeting at HYPERLINK "mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

More information is available at orcity.org.


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