New parking committee begins work

The issue of parking in downtown Hood River has a long history of analysis, recommendations and resolutions. Growing resident and visitor populations continue to create parking challenges in the downtown core, and a new City Parking Committee has convened to address emerging issues.

Survey boundaries for the 2018 parking survey are illustrated in the study area map of downtown Hood River.

The committee will analyze findings and discuss potential solutions based on current parking use data. Parking specialist Rick Williams Consulting (RWC) is studying downtown parking use dynamics and is developing metrics for both off-peak season (winter) and peak season (summer) periods. This data will assist the committee in making recommendations to the City for short-term decisions on existing parking and will provide data on parking constraints and surpluses for longer term planning.

On and off-street parking supply was inventoried in February-March and again in mid-July. A total of 1,366 parking spaces were inventoried, 586 of which were located on-street and 780 located off-street. Each study period includes a “typical” weekday and weekend day (Wednesday/Thursday and Saturday) with data collected between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Surveyors recorded parked vehicle counts each hour for on and off-street parking inventory.

 

Data from the first part of the study indicated parking use was moderate during the winter period, and that an adequate supply of on and off-street parking existed to meet the needs of visitors, customers and employees downtown, with higher pockets of activity on the weekend. There were 183 and 118 empty on-street stalls at the peak hour on Thursday and Saturday respectively. Off-street parking was found to be underutilized in the off-season study days, with 396 and 381 empty stalls at peak hours on Thursday and Saturday respectively.

 

As mid-July study dates are analyzed, it is assumed they will paint a much different picture of parking availability and constraints. “Continued constraint can cause frustration and negatively affect perceptions of downtown and make it difficult to absorb and attract new growth, or to manage fluctuations in demand,” the RWC study relays. “Efficient parking supply and use supports vital ground-level businesses and business growth, is attractive to users, and is able to respond to routine fluctuations.”

The parking committee recently held its first meeting and will continue to meet twice a month. The new parking committee is comprised of five community members along with City representation: two business representatives (Janice Bell and Brooke Pauly); two building owners (Gary Bushman and Sean Hallissey); an at-large community member (Hannah Ladwig); two city councilors (Councilors Kate McBride and Mark Zanmiller), and a staff member (City Manager Steve Wheeler).

Plans are to develop a scope of work for a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a broader downtown parking analysis complete with recommendations. The full report by Rick Williams Consulting will be available later this year.

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