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.
For more information, go to: http://www.bend.or.us/index.aspx?page=1330 .