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Bend councilors OK scaled-down Old Bend residential parking permit program

Pilot program through 2021; councilors also declare 'Welcoming Week'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Bend city councilors voted 6-1 Wednesday night to test a parking permit program in part of the Old Town neighborhood south of downtown, with permits residents can buy to secure parking by their homes.

Councilors agreed to a scaled-down pilot program, which is set to be the "guinea pig" example for the Bend Parking Divisions moving forward for possible similar areas elsewhere.

Old Bend neighborhood residents, guests, and those staying in rental properties will be able to secure permits to park on those streets, for a yearly pass that will cost $15 to $30.

City staff will report back to councilors before the pilot ends, at the end of 2021, to see if it's achieving the goals sought by the neighborhood to ease their parking squeeze.

Parking Services Manager Tobias Marx said he believes a smaller pilot program could be more beneficial for the city, in order to open communication with other residents who have not expressed as strong support for the move.

""Doing a smaller area would help us do more outreach, let's say on Delaware and Florida (avenues)," Marx said. "They have not been responding well (to surveys), or giving us as much support so it would help to open communication." 

The lone no vote, Councilor Barb Campbell, said the city through such a program will for the first time be, in essence, "selling part of the city's right of way to particular citizens." Other councilors expressed concern that such a program will just shift the issue elsewhere.

But city staff and other councilors said the problem has been around for decades, and a majority of those in the most affected areas have expressed support for giving the permit program a try.

This year's edition of "Welcoming Week" was also officially proclaimed. This year's proclamation comes after an ICE bust standoff just three weeks ago in the Bend's Box Factory near the Old Mill District.

Mayor Sally Russell and Councilor Chris Piper expressed that they would like to learn more about the situation from the federal level in order to properly handle the situation, should it arise again.

The council called on business leaders, civic groups, and government agencies to undertake their own initiatives in support.

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Alec Nolan

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