(Update: City says three, not four, spaces removed)
New parking changes have come to downtown Bend, including the removal of three previous parking spaces, much to the surprise of some regular users.
The four spaces are located on Northwest Minnesota Avenue between Wall and Bond streets, on three of the four corners of Gasoline Alley.
The changes began Wednesday, when four drivers who parked in those spaces received citations.
Daniel Reisch, who works at the 900 Wall restaurant downtown, was one of those drivers.
“I was parked there yesterday,” Reisch tells NewsChannel 21 on Thursday, gesturing to the northwest corner of the alleyway. “I was just having lunch at Toomies Thai cuisine, which is a regular occurrence, and I came out to a $50 parking ticket.”
Reisch says in the past 20 years he’s worked downtown, he has parked in the spaces without a problem.
“As of the past 20 years, they were parking spots,” Reisch says. “As of yesterday, they’re a $50 ticket.”
He tells NewsChannel 21 he was confused as to why he was cited, because he parked where there is a parking sign with an arrow that shows it is legal to park west of the alley.
David Abbas, director of streets and operations for the city of Bend, understands the confusion. He says the removal of the four parking spaces is a part of the city’s street preservation paving contract that began during the summer.
The city was already repaving Minnesota Avenue when it saw the opportunity to clean up the striping and fix the uneven spacing between the original parking spaces.
According to Abbas, the original stall lengths were only about 18 feet long. The new stall striping will be about 22 feet in length, to meet current standards. He also says the new parking changes are meant to improve driver and pedestrian safety around the alleyway.
Abbas says four citations were issued Wednesday, including the one Reisch received. However, the city and Diamond Parking retracted those, as of noon Thursday and changed them to warnings.
Leah Cassidy, the owner of Lulu’s Boutique on Northwest Minnesota Avenue, says the parking changes could impact her business, because those spots were convenient for customers.
“About once a week, someone will say, ‘Oh, I found a parking spot right out front, so I came in,’ and they buy something, and it’s just lovely,” Cassidy says. “So to have literally four prime spots downtown right out in front of our store taken away, it’s just salt in the wound.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the city painted the curbside yellow near the four former parking spots. Abbas tells NewsChannel 21 the city is in the process of moving the parking sign with the arrow pointing west to match the end of the new, yellow-marked area.
According to Abbas, after the entire process is completed, parking restrictions will be enforced.
For more information about the city’s street preservation projects, visit https://www.bendoregon.gov/government/departments/streets/street-operations/street-preservation-program.