Parking stalls equal dollars and cents for Bend

A parking stall might just be pavement with yellow lines, or a spot in the parking garage, but what that space really translates to is a financial benefit for our community.

In downtown Vancouver, the average retail sale of a visitor who parks is $31.55, Rick Williams of Portland-based Rick Williams Consulting told Bend City Councilors Wednesday during the work session. When that $31.55 is multiplied by the parking stall turn-over rate of 5.6 times a day, a single-stall value to a business in downtown Vancouver is $53,000 a year, he said.

In Bend during 2002, the average turnover rate was 7.69 times a day.

Williams, whose company is conducting the City’s two-year “Downtown Parking, Circulation and Access Study” to develop a parking plan for the downtown area, said the key is getting the right person to the right parking stall, especially in a constrained environment like downtown Bend.

“If we have employees parking on the street, or residents parking in downtown areas versus residential areas, we may be depriving our retailers and our businesses of a significant source of revenue,” Williams said.

In February, Rick Williams Consulting hosted three informational meetings to get feedback from the community about parking.

Out of those meetings, he said the community shared that it doesn’t think the system of communication is very good. Williams said the City needs to establish a recognizable, intuitive and understandable way to move people though the downtown area.

“Wherever we want a car to park in a commercial area, we want to communicate it, both with signage and on the street so people know that parking is for them,” he said.

A lot of cities have a “customer first” program that’s run peer-to-peer through the business and main street associations where businesses agree to make sure that their employees are parking where they’re supported to park as a condition of employment, Williams said.

“Do not make parking your product, make parking serve the product that you have (downtown Bend),” Williams said. “It’s a valuable asset and it needs to become a shared responsibility. The parking problems can never be fully solved by the public sector… Who’s responsible for employees? Is it the City or the business that employs them?”

Parking, particularly for employees, should be a condition of employment, he said.

“Parking is no different than your health care plan. It’s no different than your salary and your vacation schedule,” he said. “When you’re hired, you should be directed to where to park in a manner that best supports business and the customers that are coming to downtown.”

The Bend Chamber is involved in this strategic parking management program in order to help create an active plan for businesses and their customers.

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3 Responses to Parking stalls equal dollars and cents for Bend

  1. avatar Dennis Hungerford says:

    One thing that’s missing and desperately needed is LOADING ZONE parking. There isn’t any place for delivery trucks to park so they have to park in an alley or double park to make their deliveries. This often blocks traffic. Also, trucks often have to circle the block several times to find a place to park which adds to the congestion.

  2. avatar Wendy Larson says:

    I do hope your program gives ample and convenient parking to the downtown employees who keep Bend businesses running. They already deal with MINIMUM WAGE jobs and EXPENSIVE housing. And if it weren’t for them how many downtown businesses would still be in business? DON’T SCREW THESE PEOPLE OVER yet again.

  3. avatar Dan Stover says:

    I hate to see Bend thinking about going big time with the parking it will cripple everyone.
    Williams is setting us up for a fall if your not careful. More Business will need to move to the outer edges of town and this will hurt down town charm but it would be a better idea. I don’t think you can restrict the parking with out causing great wailing and gnashing teeth on both sides.

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