Downtown Bend businesses count on available parking spaces for their customers’ use. And with ongoing employee misuse of downtown parking spaces, the Downtown Bend Business Association (DBBA), City of Bend, Commute Options and downtown business owners are creating solutions to the perceived shortage of customer parking.
“We just want people to park smart from the start,” says Chuck Arnold, executive director of the DBBA, a private nonprofit serving the over 325 businesses and 85 property owners in Bend’s downtown district. “This includes parking in the right spot – one that is appropriate for the amount of time you need to park – or better yet, finding another way to get to downtown Bend that will not require parking.”
The DBBA is working with the City of Bend to create several incentives to improve parking downtown, notably reduced permit fees in the garage and all surface lots to encourage employees to not park on the street (leaving those spaces freed up for customers). They are also working on disincentives like escalating fines for employees who habitually occupy short-term customer parking.
Jeff Datwyler, City of Bend Downtown Manager, believes the city council will approve reduced permit fees to help with the downtown parking issue. “We hope these incentives and other educational measures will improve the parking behaviors of employees who misuse customer parking,” says Datwyler.
“Challenges cannot be resolved by legislation alone,” says Arnold. “To that end, the DBBA will be working closely with downtown businesses and the community to create programs that improve parking management and, more importantly, the perception of parking in Downtown Bend.”
Current DBBA programs include a customer validation program, an educational signing program to inform customers and employees about long term parking options, and a Commute Options incentive program to encourage employees to not bring their car downtown. The DBBA is also investing in parking signage to assist customers to find long term parking.
Many regular customers to downtown businesses do not realize that the downtown parking garage offers 3 hours of free parking, with an additional fee of only $1 per hour for every hour thereafter, says Kelli Brooks, owner of At the Beach, a downtown Bend retailer. “It is up to business owners to educate our customers and encourage them to park in the parking garage,” says Brooks.
“In addition to utilizing the parking garage, using a commute option – like walking, biking, carpooling or riding the bus – to get to work or shopping even one day a week can help downtown businesses’ bottom line by freeing up parking spaces for customers,” says Jeff Monson, executive director of Commute Options.
For more information on how to get involved in the DBBA’s parking management programs, call Chuck Arnold at 541-788-3628.
Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information about Commute Options, contact Jeff Monson, Executive Director of Commute Options at 541/330-2647 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 541/330-2647 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or visit www.commuteoptions.org.
Annissa Anderson is a freelance writer and PR consultant in Bend.