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Bend’s downtown parking garage changes are a ‘hands-on’ project for Tobi Marx

(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.

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Comments

19 Comments

  1. The parking garage is almost never ever full, its been that way for decades, yet its often hard to find free spots on streets anywhere near downtown- not sure how making the garage harder to use will improve the overall downtown parking experience

  2. It’s about how much money can be made. It makes more sense to charge people to park in a secured parking garage then it does the people that live down town to park on the street in front of their own home.

  3. I stopped going “downtown” years ago. I don’t like crowds and there are no businesses downtown that I patronize. Looks like one more reason for me to stay away. Oh, and if I do want to go downtown (say just to walk around a bit or go to Drake park, I’ll just park at the library parking lot a few blocks away (or on the curb next to the library). I do occasionally visit the library so I’ll just kill two birds with one stone. I wonder if we’ll start seeing parking meters for the street parking at some point?

  4. Street parking downtown is too big a hassle finding a slot. Only bright spot was (almost) always finding an easy spot in the garage. Now that the garage becomes an inconvenient hassle (dealing with another app, tickets, pay stations, (some) business validations, etc) going downtown is scratched off my list. I can find anything I want outside of downtown where parking is readily available.

    If street racing was the actual actual reason for this, seems it would have been much easier and cheaper to install cameras on the roof and 3rd floor to film and later arrest the culprits.

    1. The best parking in downtown Bend is right above the Oxford Hotel, up those stairs by the DoubleTree. The parking enforcement cannot ticket you and the hotel doesn’t care who parks there. You’re welcome.

  5. Perfect way to help all the struggling businesses downtown as they hope to survive the aftermath of the pandemic! No more free parking downtown will surely not help. I know a lot of people who will not go downtown already so this will add thousands more, good job city!

  6. This is COMMUNISM! The socialist left is taking away my CONSTITUTIONAL right to park WHEREVER I WANT! Sleepy Joe and Obama are behind this! Follow the money! ANTIFA!!!

  7. I think its make more sense to turn into into a homeless encampment .It has great ventilation protection from the rain and it would be easy to clean .But of course our all of our wealthy pension fund babies wouldn’t like to share their air with the underclass

  8. I was down there today and the parking garage was almost empty. The new gate will deter more people from parking there. After it remains mostly empty for a couple of years, the city can tear it down and make another park.

  9. The parking garage was crowded every first Friday art walk, prior to pandemic of course. Even two to three hours before the start, garage was full. Never could get a spot during any of the festivals. And the poor design of the cars waiting to enter being blocked by those coming out was stupid. Literally was trapped for over an hour trying to get in but sandwiched between other cars that couldn’t get in due to volume of cars trying to get out! Wonder what design idiot scratched this out on a napkin between drinks… Oh, the same idiots that designed the parkway!

  10. It’s a boondoggle of a money waster. The more the powers that be try to “fix” something, the more the screw it up. As someone who is downtown everyday, the solutions were simple but the city can’t toss money at simple solutions. They must come up with convoluted crap.
    1. The problem wasn’t people racing. It was homeless campers, skateboarders, and drug users. A gate on one side isn’t going to keep them out. You don’t lock the front door and keep the back unlocked in your home. But these geniuses think its fine. All the bums and young people need to do is WALK in freely and continue.
    2. They have had signs for years lying to the public that the garage was under video watch. NEVER WAS. STILL ISN’T. If they installed cameras, they could keep tabs on the garage from their office and alert authorities when trouble was occurring. Too easy.
    3. Move Diamond Parking office to the unused office the Bend PD aren’t using. Then the parking people are right there to keep tabs on things.
    4. I give it 6 months before the cameras on the gate are vandalized or ran into. And what happens if there is a glitch and the camera misreads a license plate or won’t open. Then you have a line of cars that can’t move.
    5. We just had to register our license plates on an app less than a year ago for our credit cards to be charged to park there. This was supposed to be easy and no hassle and keep us from having to worry. now we have to download another app we didn’t want and re-register for a parking system that is a convoluted mess that only a city planner or a high priced consultant could dream up? How about if you work downtown, you just get a pass that lets you park anywhere? The garage, downtown, wherever..you pay the $40 a month you can park downtown without the parking squad writing you up.

    This new system is a prime example of overthinking. You ask these people what time it is and instead of telling you, they build you a watch. But they only get input from certain folk anyway that are happy to “yes-man” whatever plan comes through. They don’t want the easy solutions as that cuts big budget managing on resumes, money spent on contracts with certain companies, and publicity for bureaucrats.

  11. By and large a very civil set of comments. I was able to read them all without my blood pressure going up.
    Either comment moderation is working – or the abusive posters are not awake yet.
    In any case – well done. It makes the comment section far more useful.

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