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City revises parking rates

March 28, 2012

The way visitors and local business employees park in downtown Hood River is changing a bit after the Hood River City Council adopted revised parking rates at its Monday meeting.

The city is lowering the cost of monthly parking in its Columbia lot and monthly parking permits will now not be valid at city meters from May 15 to Oct. 15 in metered parking spaces on the south side of State Street between Second and Fourth streets.

The city hopes that forcing pass holders to park in designated lots will open up parking spaces downtown for visitors during peak tourism months.

"My goal is, there is more opportunity for people to park downtown and that employees should park at more remote locations instead of parking in the middle of downtown," said Hood River City Manager Bob Francis while reporting to the council on the proposed changes. "Those spots should be for visitors."

While the meters will be off limits for pass holders, they will be getting a better deal when they buy passes for the lots. The price of permits for the city lot on Columbia will drop by 43 percent, to $20 from the current price of $35.

Francis said that the Downtown Business Association and Chamber of Commerce found that the $35 a month was difficult to afford for workers who used the lot and were largely making close to minimum wage.

Francis said that the cost reflects in current use of the lot, saying that it was currently only around 60 percent full.

The $20 price will only be effective at the Columbia lot.

The prices at the city's other lots will be unchanged. However, permit parking will not be allowed at the city's west lot from May 15-Oct. 15. From May to October parking in the west lot will be 75 cents per hour.

To accommodate that change, the city will be moving one of its automatic parking permit machines from the Columbia lot to the west lot.

The machines can be used to purchase time at any meter in town.

Several of the council members expressed concern that dropping the price of the long-term passes could negatively affect the revenue brought in from the passes.

"There are a lot of additional costs as well, such as increased signage and moving the machines," Jeff Nicol said. "There are a lot of unknown effects here."

However, others took the view that the lowering the price could lead to more passes sold.

"Not only does our town fill up with tourists (in the summer), it also fills up with people who are making less money and are here for a short period of time," Kate McBride said. "I do agree that $35 is a hardship for someone making minimum wage."

Council member Ed Weathers said he was unsure if the city could sell enough passes to make up for the lost revenue.

"There is only the opportunity to sell 25 more passes in Columbia lot....there is not a lot of room for growth so you are going to have to make it up in hourly spaces," he said.

However, Francis said the city would slightly oversell the lot since "it is unlikely all 110 pass holders will be parked there at the same time."

He also said that if employees wanted to park closer to downtown, they could use the west lot as a "premium lot" during off-peak months.

The revised fee structure wound up passing by unanimous vote.

In addition to the parking fee revisions, the consolidated fee schedule presented to the council included changes in taxi cab rates and the price to rent city facilities.

Taxicab rates had not been revised since 20005, and will be raised at the request of Gorge Yellow Cab. Local trips within city limits will now cost $9. One passenger trip to Portland International Airport will be $120 and $.750 per additional passenger. Package pickup and deliver within city limits will cost $7.50.

For all other trips, pick up is $4 and cost per mile will be $2.50. An extra person will also cost $2.50 and an hourly standby rate will be $30.

The cost to use city parking lots for events is also going up. The cost for a street closure permit is rising to $100 per day from $97. Parking space closures per day for any street will rise to $6 from $4.

The fee for the Columbia lot will increase to $300 for the first day plus $100 for each additional day with a limit of $500 or three consecutive days.

The old price was $97 per day.

For all other lots the rate is changing from a $97 flat rate to $5 per parking space used per day, not to exceed three consecutive days.

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