(Update: Adding city staff member, spa manager comments)
The city plans to get a new gate operating sometime next week
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A plan to install a parking gate at the Centennial Parking Plaza has been in the works for a while, but it became a priority this year after an increase in trespassing complaints.
"That is something that residents, business owners have really complained a lot about," Marx said Thursday. "That's our top priority."
The garage's free three-hour parking format will be replaced with a downtown merchant validation system and will have a number of technological advancements.
"As a parking nerd, the really cool thing about this system is that it's a really innovative system," Tobi Marx said, Bend's Parking Services Division manager. "So it has license plate recognition, it has QR code recognition and a lot of different ways a customer can enter and exit and pay."
Marie Fozo, a manager at Zante Spa & Salon in downtown Bend, told NewsChannel 21 that the gate is a welcome change.
"I think it's going to solve a lot of problems for downtown," Fozo said. "We are all for it, and we love it."
Fozo has been working at the spa for six years, and according to her, it will be the first time the spa will validate parking.
"Obviously, because of the services that we do here, it can take hours," Fozo said. "We would love to validate their parking and not have to worry about them."
Installation is expected to be completed next Monday, officials said in Wednesday's announcement, which continues in full below:
Once completed, the new access control system, which is a moving arm that raises and lowers to restrict vehicles from entering or exiting, will limit entry into the parking garage to paying parking customers.
This will help limit the number of vehicles and individuals accessing the garage and participating in unsafe or unwanted behaviors, such as reports of individuals racing vehicles through the garage.
The current three-hour free parking in the garage will be replaced with a new merchant validation program where participating downtown businesses can continue to provide free parking for their customers and encourage shopping at local small businesses.
The new access control system also improves parking space inventory management by tracking the exact number of vehicles accessing the garage. The system will include a digital display informing drivers about available parking spaces as they enter the garage.
To help track the number of spaces being used in the parking garage, The Oxford Hotel will relocate valet parking spaces from the rooftop of the garage to the ground floor.
Alley access to the parking garage is now limited to The Oxford Hotel and residents of Putnam Pointe. Members of the public wishing to park in the downtown parking garage should only access the parking garage from NW Lava Road and use the access control system.
The new access control system will improve the customer experience with contactless entry, exit and payment, city officials said.
Customers can register on the Pango mobile app with their license plate number to have a contactless experience, if desired. The access system can recognize the license plate numbers of registered parking customers and parking permit holders and will automatically raise the access control arm at entry and exit. A QR code can also be used, instead of a license plate number.
Customers who prefer not to use the contactless option are able to gain access to the parking garage by taking a ticket at entry. The ticket must be paid at the pay station in the parking garage or with the Pango mobile app before using it to exit the garage. Instructions to pay for parking via the mobile app or paper ticket will be posted in the parking garage.
Adding access control to the Centennial Parking Garage is one of the strategies included in the city’s Downtown Strategic Parking Management Plan.
“Delivering these next steps of the Downtown Parking Strategic Management Plan will help us to continue to offer an easy and convenient parking experience,” said Parking Services Division Manager Tobi Marx. “Building a customer-oriented parking system will help us to support our amazing small business community.”
The parking management plan also includes establishing a staff advisory group that represents a cross-section of downtown stakeholders. This Downtown Parking Advisory Committee routinely assists in the review and implementation of the Downtown Strategic Parking Management Plan.
This committee meets bi-weekly and has scheduled a Parking Information Meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18. The meeting will include an update on upcoming changes to downtown parking. More information about this meeting can be found at www.bendoregon.gov/parking.