BEND, OR -- Bend has a thriving downtown, but parking is a challenge for visitors and those who work in the area. A city workgroup has met 11 times over the past year and a half to come up with ways to improve the situation. They presented their ideas at an open house at Deschutes Brewery, Thursday evening.
Portland parking consultant Rick Williams led the presentation. He tells KBND News, "I think there's a general sense that something should be done. I think there's always a sense of nervousness about 'status quo could change.' But, I think the overall sense is that parking could be better; it could be better managed, better communicated. And we need to find places for people to park because it does get constrained, particularly in summer."
Local business owner Jennifer Steigman thinks they're on the right path. "I really want my employees [and customers] to feel there's easily accessible parking that isn't - they're not penalized when they're downtown for three hours. They want to be able to shop, get their haircut and eat and not have to rush back and try to move their car, and stuff like that. So, I'm concerned about that because I hear a lot about that. At the same time, I don't want my own employees taking those customers' spots."
Williams agrees the solution needs to work for everyone. "We want visitors to be as close as possible to businesses, to turn over as much as we can, because they're a huge generator of business in downtown. We also realize that there are employees, now, who are 'hopping' - they'll park two hours, then they'll park two hours, and they'll park two hours. Can we give them a better place to park that's safe and convenient, where they can just park and they don't have to do that?"
The group's recommendations include hiring a parking demand manager, forming a downtown parking advisory committee and adjusting prices to spread out parking throughout the downtown corridor. The public can provide more input on the proposal through 5 p.m. Friday at the city's website.