Update: Port plans to start waterfront paid parking June 11; Commission delays taking formal action until June 5

Commission scheduled to act on plan May 15

PORT Executive Director Michael McElwee points to the Event Site and adjacent paid parking area on a projected waterfront map during last week’s public information session on the paid parking plan. North First, at the right edge of the map, will also be paid — but Portway adjacent to Waterfront Park remains free, under the plan.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
PORT Executive Director Michael McElwee points to the Event Site and adjacent paid parking area on a projected waterfront map during last week’s public information session on the paid parking plan. North First, at the right edge of the map, will also be paid — but Portway adjacent to Waterfront Park remains free, under the plan.



Update:

The waterfront parking plan will go into effect June 11, a revised date announced at the Port Commission meeting on May 15. The commission decided Tuesday to postpone formal action on the rates and penalties under the parking plan until its June 5 meeting.

However, the Cale pay stations are in the process of being installed and will be initially programmed to charge users the rate of would be $2 per hour, in selected areas, and off-street $8 per day for off-street parking; on-street parking charges accrue up to a daily maximum of $18.

Four-hour time limits, guided by GPS coordinates, will be enforced in each zone, meaning users must move their vehicle out of a zone after four hours or face penalty. However, time can be added without having to return to the car, via message from a phone number programmed in at time of payment, or by using the Way to Park smart phone app.

Paid parking at the West Jensen lot will not start until sometime in July, as the ground needs to be graded and paved.

Enforcement will be carried out by port personnel.

Original story:

In what is marketed as “Park for Parks,” paid parking is about to begin in areas of the Port of Hood River-owned Hood River waterfront.

The plan could go into effect as early as June 1, though installation and other logistics might delay that by a week or so. The port meets at 5 p.m. on May 15 in the meeting room in the port office, next to the Hood River Interstate Bridge. Hood River News will update the commission’s action May 16 at hoodrivernews.com.

The paid parking plan follows two years of meetings with the city and with a committee of city, port and business representatives who looked at paid parking options and indicated approval of the limited summer-fall paid proposal.

The goals for paid parking in areas of the waterfront are: to manage limited parking resources efficiently; get the “right user to the right spot;” ensure that users of recreational facilities equitably contribute to their upkeep; encourage turnover at specific locations; distribute users throughout the waterfront; and provide new resources for recreational site maintenance.

Setting of the schedule, fees and other details depends on port commission action, but the intent is to charge for parking annually from May 15 through Oct. 15, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Parking would not be allowed past midnight, in any lot, except commercial trucks only on N. First Street, and trucks will pay a $20 fee.

Here are the basics of what is being considered for the paid parking system to start June 1, depending on scheduled Port Commission action:

Street parking rate would be $2 per hour and off-street parking rate $8 per day; on-street parking charges accrue up to a daily maximum of $18.

Cale pay stations — same as City of Hood River — will be installed at nine locations and handle debit and credit cards. Unlike the city stations, however, they only accept cards and will operate by users entering their vehicle license plates.

The plan sets up four identified paid parking lots and on-street areas: First Street; Portway East; Jensen West; and Nichols Basin. One complicating factor, due to the rise in asphalt costs, has been hiring an asphalt contractor at a budgeted price to do one of the two new off-street areas of the plan: West Jensen lot, which is currently gravel. Currently, the plan is to start operation of that paid lot on July 1.

The free areas on Portway Avenue stretch between Second and Eighth streets, fronting Waterfront Park and the growing commercial district. West Portway west of Eighth will be permit-only spaces.

Equity and access issues have been raised by critics of the plan, and port officials have acknowledged that the plan is unprecedented, while stressing both the need to develop revenue to pay for parks maintenance for an increasing number of users of Event Site and other port recreation areas, and the fact that most areas remain free for parking.

“We will be incorrect about some of these things we’re doing, and we will make corrections,” Executive Director Michael McElwee said at an information session last week, attended by four members of the public. McElwee said the parking committee meets the end of this month, “and we will discuss how we’re going to monitor it. We will hear from the business and the city.”

Citizen Helen James expressed concern over locals’ ability to pay for parking and limitations on their access to public facilities, and asked McElwee, “To me it sounds like you’re hearing mostly from the businesses and the city. Are you hearing from the residents as a whole? Are you listening to everybody, not just the squeaky wheels?”

McElwee said, “When we had public testimony about the bridge fare increase, the majority of what was heard was that theme.

“The parking committee did include one or two folks who had that perspective and I think that in part, maybe a large part, that’s why the city was uncomfortable going with paid meter in front of the (waterfront) park.”

McElwee also responded to the question of Event Site users taking the free spaces on West Portway rather than paying.

“It may neutralize any parking there. It may be they will take those spaces. We will watch this very carefully and figure out how to change our approach, to make it better,” he said.

Enforcement could start as early as June 1.

Nine pay stations will be set up, with signage. Installing the pay stations, and with it the associated signage and road and curb painting, could be done as early as June 1 but implementation might take a week or so longer, according to McElwee.

PARKING POINTS

You won’t have to pay to park on West Portway from Second to Eighth streets.

You will have to pay to park across from the Event Site, or along First Street to the south.

Year-round, transferrable passes are being discounted (to $75) as a way to encourage off-street parking and to serve county residents.

If you spend an average of an hour and a half a week at the waterfront, the pass is a savings over “plugging a meter.”

McElwee said that the port marina parking areas and marina beach, and picnic areas and restrooms, will likely always remain free of paid parking.



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