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October 29, 2013


Is there a map showing where this zone is? My team was using a room at IKE BOX today and were surprised to learn that parking there is still metered. Apparently it's not "downtown." ??

Amy, you can find a map of the free downtown parking area here:


I think the IKE Box is just outside the area, but am not absolutely sure.

It's all good until you can't find a parking space because people park for hours on end. People waste a lot of time and fuel circling the blocks looking for parking spaces.

Successful cities price parking in order to encourage turnover, and to encourage walking, biking and the use of public transit. But, oh, I forgot. Salem is just one big happy sprawling, car-centric suburb of nowhere.

Laurie, I frequently hear your arguments, but don't really understand them.

Don't we want people shopping, dining, and otherwise visiting downtown businesses/enterprises? If someone does this for longer than two hours, isn't this better than leaving after two hours because of a parking limit?

I understand the notion of "turnover." However, it makes more sense in the context of a busy restaurant, where there are more patrons wanting to get in while others are being served.

You don't want to discourage people in line from eating at the restaurant, so the goal is to turn over tables fairly quickly.

I haven't noticed downtown Salem having the problem of too many people on the sidewalks, clamoring to get into overly busy restaurants and coffee houses, all that.

So it seems wrong to use a parking strategy designed for an area like NW 23rd Street in Portland, Pasadena, or other highly desirable/attractive urban areas in downtown Salem.

Most important goal is to make downtown more attractive, dynamic, and vital. Parking meters and time limits work against this goal. At some point "congestion pricing" might be necessary. But this doesn't make sense when congestion isn't a problem.

Carole Smith hired Rick Williams in her crusade against parking limits. Rick Williams recommended metering the 789 spaces that are occupied 92% of the time. Then Carole Smith went crusading against his recommendation. Carole Smith made more parking a primary selling point of her streetscape proposal in order to appease businesses that have complained for years that there isn't enough available parking. People like Britta Franz have criticized the city for years for not providing more parking. Downtown businesses watered down the recommendations in the downtown mobility study to preserve parking spaces. In a recent poll SJ readers said that downtown needed more parking more than it needs nightlife, shops, or restaurants. In another poll 65% said that this will make it either harder to park downtown or lead to more employees parking on the street. Only 20% said it will attract more visitors.

You claim there isn't a parking problem, but when you want to kill a downtown housing development (which is what Salem really needs) you cite the parking as a reason.

And the financial consequences are that the millions being spent to subsidize parking is not available to plant trees, extend sidewalks, reduce the traffic lanes, or bring more housing to downtown.

Thankfully Portland, Corvallis, and McMinnville are not that far away.

Curt, I can't talk you out of your negative attitude toward downtown Salem. Only you can, if you want to try.

All I can urge you to do is look at the parking situation in a way that is simultaneously scientific and poetic.

Thanks to Carole Smith and the fifty or sixty downtown businesses that supported the parking initiative, Salem has embarked on an experiment: how does doing away with the prospect of parking meters, and two hour limits, affect the vitality of downtown?

Everybody concerned about downtown should be interested in the results of this experiment. As I said in this post, one of the first findings is that aesthetically, the streets of downtown look more attractive.

Yes, this is more of a poetic than a scientific observation. But I suspect it is shared by many, if not most, visitors to downtown. Over the coming months and years we'll learn more about how the move to unlimited free onstreet parking affects downtown.

Likely there will be some problems, along with some benefits. Good along with the bad. Positive along with the negative. It's a learning process.

What surprises me is the negativity you and some others show toward this citizen initiative. Instead of saying "let's see how it works," you seem determined to not make it work. Reminds me of the Republicans who now are criticizing the rollout of Obamacare after trying to derail it.

When something is the law of the land, or the city, I believe that opponents and supporters alike have a duty to make it work as well as possible. Also, to change it, if that is desired. But that should happen through elections and an open political process.

It takes political courage leadership and skill to get health care reform implemented past the reactionary obstructionism of the Tea Party. It will take the same from our city staff and council to overcome the NIMBY obstructionism of the Tea Parkers and Pringle (NO) Access crowd to put Salem on a sustainable urban course.

30 years of free parking has failed. The efforts to correct that failed experiment have only spawned more Tea Bircher conspiracies about Salem government and quashed any hope for evidence based decision making. Salem is the most underwhelming, under acheiving city in the state. Its clear that the "old timers" have fought hard to make it that way. Salem has always been on the wrong side of history. Time does make more converts than reason, the only difference is that I won't be able to enjoy it in my lifetime.

In just 2 years in Salem I have been more involved in Salem and made more positive contributions to this city than you have in you entire life. The modest progress I made has been set back at least 10 years by the this ignorant, selfish, spiteful group of NIMBYs.

Curt, I admire honest, unvarnished, blunt expressions of opinion -- even when I can't fully understand or agree with them. So thanks for your comment.

You are a passionate guy, who cares. Kudos to you for that. I don't expect you to be open to this thought, a bit of gentle advice. It's just something that, after 65 years of living, I've come to accept as true:

Everyone has their own passions, their own ways of caring. We all view reality through our own subjective prism, a particular human brain.

What seems so obvious to us, looks different to others. The challenge is to honor what is true from our own perspective, while also honoring the viewpoints of others.

I'm not very good at this. Few people are. All we can do is keep trying. That's what relationships are all about, whether romantic, marriage, friendship, or political. We keep trying to understand each other.

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