Great news from Carole Smith and the other folks at Stop Parking Meters Downtown (downtown Salem, Oregon, that is). This was an amazing demonstration of democracy in action, citizens doing what their elected officials refused to do: listen to the people of Salem and small downtown business owners.
From the Stop Parking Meters Downtown web site:
WE COLLECTED ALMOST 9,000 SIGNATURES!
As of Sept 4th, we have enough sigatures to get on the May ballot! The City Recorder will be taking our petition to city council on Sept 23rd. They can voluntarily adopt it word-for-word. If they do not – it automatically goes to a vote of the people in May 2014!
What problem is being solved with meters?
There are two problems the City would like to solve:
1.) The City believes it has a revenue problem because the $1.4 million annual parking garage income is not enough to pay for maintenance. The City wants $700,000 more a year.
2.) Too many part-time employees are parking on-street because they cannot afford to pay $50 – $60 a month to park in the garages.
Can the city increase revenue other ways?
Yes, there are ways the city could increase revenue in their garages and get employees off the street – without parking meters. The most popular idea is to charge $1 a day to use the downtown garages -this would solve both problems.
Making parking affordable for employees to park in the garages would free up spaces on-street for you, our customers, and increase the city’s parking garage income by half a million a year.
Employees WANT to park in the garages, but cannot afford it. Many of our customers WANT to park on-street, but its full of employees. Penneys, Nordstrom, and Kohls could validate the $1 fee if they choose - their customers would pay nothing to park in the garages.
The important thing to remember is, this is NOT a parking problem. Don’t get drug down into solving a problem we don’t have – it’s a revenue problem disguised behind a smoke screen of parking.
Whats the next step after parking meters?
The city has offered to sell the parking garages in the past. No one would buy them as long as we have free parking on-street. Once the garages are sold- they will have parking meters also. The three downtown parking garages are a public asset, like our city parks, our library, fire and police stations – we should never sell them. They should make money for the city, but the way the city manages them, they won’t.
How can we have free, unlimited time parking downtown?
Downtown Salem had a highly successful free, unlimited time parking program for 35 years – until the city broke it when they stopped enforcing employees from using on-street parking.
The City allowed employees to park on-street to increase parking congestion so they could justify adding 2 hour parking limits. Even with so many employees parking on-street the statistics still didn’t justify 2 hour parking. The city then adjusted the survey area to just 6 of the 26 downtown blocks and then, for one hour, parking occupancy tipped over 85% usage- 2 hour limits went in.
It has been illegal for any employee, volunteer, student or business owner to park on-street since 1976 – and it is still illegal today - the city just needs to enforce their own ordinances.
Has 2 hour parking worked?
The Citys parking consultant has shown, parking occupancy and turnover have not improved with 2 hour parking. Today there are no more parking spaces available than there were in 2005 before 2 hour limits were implemented. No improvement.
The City Manager told the downtown that our customers who wanted to shop longer than 2 hours would use the garages. The consultants measurement of garage use went DOWN after 2 hour limits were implemented. That means – not only did our customers not use the garages, but our employees began leaking out onto the street. . . .
Enforcement of 2 hour parking cost $110,000 more than ticket revenue last year. Two hour parking has failed on all measurable levels but that has not caused the City to hesitate making an unsuccessful program worse by adding meters.
Do you have confidence in the City’s solution?
The City terminated the Salem Downtown Partnership in April 2013 to prevent any organized opposition to installing parking meters downtown.
The City took the same tactic in 2004 when it also terminated the Salem Downtown Association – the year before 2 hour parking went in. . .
The City Manager reported she terminated the Salem Downtown Partnership because she had “lost confidence”. If that is a valid reason to terminate an organization – watch out city, many people may be questioning their “confidence” in your parking management practices right now.
What can I do?
Vote in the May 2014 Primary election. Tell the city you are tired of their hidden fees on your sewer bill, increased costs, and doubling the parking meter charge around the capitol. Be honest about solving your financial problem so we can help you and respect your decisions.