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Paid street parking to be proposed in downtown Bend; details still being worked out

(Update: Adding video, comments from city of Bend, business owners)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The City of Bend Transportation Department is working on a plan for paid street parking to return to downtown Bend, decades after parking meters were removed.

Tobias Marx, the parking service division manager with the City of Bend said Wednesday the city has been implementing its downtown parking strategic management plan since 2017, and charging for parking is the next logical step.

“The goal is not to necessarily put up more paid parking. The goal is to ensure there’s always available in every block in downtown,” Marx said. 

Finding a parking spot in downtown Bend isn’t always easy. Some people think making on-street spots paid will make it better, while a few business owners disagree. 

“I know a ton of people who avoid downtown and they avoid it just because of the parking,” said Clayton Horn, owner of Planker Sandwiches. “And so anything that makes parking more difficult downtown, I’m against.”

Deanna Miller, an artist at Lotus Moon, agrees.

 “When you start charging from the very beginning, I think it hurts -- I think it will hurt downtown,” Miller said. 

Miller and Horn fear any parking change will push people away and in turn hurt business.

But Andrew Doyle, an attorney in Bend, said it won’t stop him from shopping and eating downtown. 

“So it might impact it a little bit, I think to be honest I would not stop coming downtown completely,” Doyle said.

Anya D’Costa was visiting Bend and said it wouldn't stop her from coming downtown, either.

“If I got here and I was intending to eat downtown or walk around, I probably would end up feeling obviously obligated to pay, because that’s what I came here to do, but I wouldn’t necessarily be happy about it,” D’Costa said. 

Devin Haines, who lives in Terrebonne and has been in Central Oregon since 2006, said people need to adapt.

“It's money out of your pocket, and some people don’t like spending money. But you know ,it’s all a part of things -- this is a part of growth,” Haines said. 

Haines and Doyle think it could actually be a step in the right direction.

“With all the tourism that comes to this city, I think this is just another resource, and something that they do in other parts that we just haven’t done here in Bend yet,” Haines said.

“Cars sometimes are here all freaking day, and I think if people sort of knew, ‘Hey you got to pay for it,' whatever -- you think of other cities that have it. It’s not like we’re reinventing the wheel,” Doyle chimed in. 

Marx emphasized the specifics of which streets and how much the parking would cost are still being worked out.  

A detailed plan will be presented to the city council some time this spring, he said, and there is no set timeline for when it would start.

Marx explained downtown Bend would be a “benefit district,” which means all the money collected for parking would go back into the downtown area for things like cleaning, beautifying and modifying. 

The city of Bend eliminated free parking at its Centennial Parking Garage last year, going to the same $1 an hour, $10 all day rates already in place for the Troy Field and Newport Avenue parking lots. The North and South Mirror Pond Lots charge $1 an hour every day but Sunday - more details on downtown parking at the city's page here.

Parking meters in downtown Bend, Pilot Butte Inn in background (Courtesy Deschutes Historical Museum)

It won't be a first, if there are new parking meters or some other high-tech parking payment method added downtown.

"We had parking meters for nearly 40 years," said Kelly Cannon-Miller, executive director of the Deschutes Historical Museum. They were removed in the 1980s, "but we had them for a long time," she said.

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.

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