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Permanent downtown Bend parklet program proposed; fee is a matter of debate

(Update: Adding video, councilor comments)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The city of Bend last year created a temporary parklet program for restaurants and others to use downtown sidewalks and curbside parking spaces under an emergency declaration during the pandemic. That program is likely to become permanent, but a proposed fee for businesses wanting to take part is still a matter of debate among councilors.

City councilors got a staff presentation Wednesday evening and discussed the planned commercial parklet license program.

The initial program was an effort to aid struggling businesses so they could remain open and operational amid strict state occupancy limits.

Under the proposed permanent parklet program, businesses looking to get or keep a parklet would have to pay a $255 application fee, then $100 a month for each parking space taken up by the parklet.

But some councilors, including Anthony Broadman and Melanie Kebler, said Wednesday the suggested fee structure could be a hurdle for business owners.

Broadman says he wants a more targeted approach that could be based on factors like square footage when it comes to the fee structure.

"We know the value people put on being able to go to our wonderful downtown retailers and downtown restaurants. They're willing to wait for an hour to go into a restaurant but how long are you willing to wait for a parking spot? Not very long," Broadman said. "You're going circle or you're going to go to the (city parking) garage. So I would like a more targeted approach to a fee, if any, either based on square footage or have one parking spot be included." 

Broadman added that the benefits to business owners are far greater than other parking space uses.

"The benefit of having 20 people go through a parklet far outweighs a construction vehicle being parked," Broadman said.

Mayor Sally Russell says she believes it makes sense to have fees, because it is private use of public parking spaces.

A license can be renewed starting in November for the following calendar year, and licenses will be non-transferable to new small downtown business owners.

According to the city, a commercial parklet license will be issued for a period of one calendar year, beginning on Jan. 1 and ending on Dec. 31 of the permitted year.

Out of the 1,800 parking spaces, just 5% (90) of all on-street downtown parking spaces will be available for parklet use.

Licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis, while available.

Councilors also held a second reading and a formal, unanimous vote to enact a controversial ban on the sale and use of fireworks within the city.

But that did not stop some in opposition. like TNT Fireworks' Regional Manager Jason Trout. from voicing his concerns.

He and several nonprofits in Bend who benefit from the sale of fireworks have recently pleaded wotj councilors to delay the vote.

"We're asking that you delay your decision and allow input from not only the industry but the community which has been censored and left out up to this point," Trout said.

Trout added that many who oppose the ban feel ignored by councilors.

"There are many alternatives to an outright ban, which the council continues to ignore by not opening up a dialogue and addressing the stakeholders and the nonprofits that will suffer greatly due to an outright ban of fireworks within the city limits," Trout said.

The city says if anyone has fireworks, legal or illegal, that they would like to surrender, they can do so by contacting Bend Fire and Rescue to make arrangements at 541-322-6386.

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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.



  1. So Sally, you can charge a fee to a restaurant because it’s private use on public property, but at the same time, you are going to let homeless people set up a private tent on public property and give them services to boot? You have got to be kidding me.

    1. Significant lack of brain power at the city leadership. “Additional problems are the offspring of poor solutions.” Mark Twain. Makes you wonder why more businesses are relocating out of Bend.

  2. Whoever wrote this article jumbled two subjects together. The heading and intro talk about parklets, then somehow the article just wanders into fireworks. Huh? KTVZ, you really need to have an editor on board. Clearly someone needs to read these pieces before you release them to the public and embarrass yourselves. That said, many of the parklets are tacky and lower the attractiveness of the area. And, I never see a discussion of how many of them obstruct access by the disabled. There are odd twists and turns to get around them, cables going across the sidewalk, etc., all clear violations of handicapped laws.

          1. Per our discussion recently, I consulted several journalism style books and they are all over the map, but they were consistent on a couple of things. Any edits of significance should be noted in a comment at top or bottom of article and changes beyond just grammar and spelling should never be left invisible on re-writes.

            1. Interesting. Have you ever noticed how few national or local media outlets do that? I just got us doing the update line from my wire service days – when you’re up to ’26th ld-writethru’ wire editors need to know what changed – and we’re all our own “wire editors” now. So like everything else, it and best practices should evolve.
              But very, very few practice that level of transparency, probably for a variety of reasons. Updates rarely get explained – top, bottom etc.
              Glad we’re one that does provide that info, even if it’s only ‘adding video.” It also helps people judge comments in their proper context, time-wise/

  3. A couple of good pedestrian/bike crossings over the parkway and tracks would free up some downtown parking spaces. As a matter of fact better crossings would even create a bunch of worker parking not far from downtown.

    1. Yes, but…crossings would be incredibly expensive, in the multiple millions of dollars apiece, and neither ODOT or the Railroads have any incentive to do it.

  4. “‘The benefit of having 20 people go through a parklet far outweighs a construction vehicle being parked,’ Broadman said.”

    I didn’t know it was an either/or kind of situation.

    I’d be okay with restaurants being allowed to keep their ramshackle parklets if the fees went to the nearby retailers who might have lost a sale because a potential customer couldn’t find a place to park.

  5. The major problem with parklets is when restaurants (who don’t have to pay for them) leave them sitting unused for days or even weeks all while blocking valuable parking spaces that are desperately needed for other businesses. If restaurants are going to benefit from our city owned parking spaces then they will simply need to pay for them, market rent. Downtown per foot space rent is $2.05-$3.00 per foot. I also think that retail businesses that don’t get to participate in this program should get the ability to validate customers parking fees for up to 2-3 hours for people who shop at their stores.. Parklets= A bad idea that fEeLs good to our very emotional leaders in this city…

    1. Improve pedestrian access to east of the tracks, workers will park there and tourists staying east of the tracks will avoid the duii while not wasting a downtown space. Half of downtown spaces could be disabled spaces if we improve access for the physically mobile.

  6. The benefit of having 20 people go through a parklet far outweighs a construction vehicle being parked,” Broadman said. – so then you agree that the construction folks do not need to get or check permits since you don’t want them to park where they are being sold?

    1. That was a shockingly stupid quote. Vehicles shouldn’t park in parking place now? Who cares what kind of vehicle it is. And 5% of spaces is misleading. It’s a much higher percentage of the BETTER parking spaces. We seriously need a new city council.

  7. With all these tacky parklets increasing the difficulty of getting around downtown, I am thankful that I can make most of my purchases online instead and avoid the whole messy situation. Bend just be gettin’ more ghetto everyday.

  8. Many details should be addressed prior to final approval for continued use of the public streets for private purposes. With the loss of parking spaces, will there be a loss of ADA spaces? The number of ADA-marked spaces should actually be increased as regular spaces (that will be reduced, causing additional demand per space) are also used by disabled persons. What are building code requirements and liability issues for the city? Easy to say the city isn’t responsible, but if, for instance, a structure/shelter collapses, the city is always an easy target. What about appearances? We have design review for virtually everything but single-family homes. Shouldn’t something as visually significant as a structure in the street have to meet some design compatibility standards? Should bonding or some other assurance be required for structure removal after lease expiration? How does normal street maintenance occur with semi-permanent structures blocking portions of the roadway? What happens to street trees and other “street furniture?” How is emergency access (especially fire) provided/hindered when there is a structure between the street and buildings? It’s apparent that these parklets have been of benefit to abutting property owners and allowed them to survive (so far) through the pandemic, offering safer outdoor space that was not previously available. However, a more permanent move in this direction requires a much more critical look at the impacts. Good luck.

  9. I wonder about the fairness to non restaurant owners. These spaces are used by customers of adjacent businesses too. So the impact should be paid for. $100/m is cheap for a permanent parking spot downtown.

  10. Downtown bend: Parking is an issue and we are gonna start charging for the parking garage, parking spaces and booting peoples.

    Also downtown bend: We need to take up those useless parking spaces so that people can eat outside (most of which have not been used now that the weather is changing).

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