Roseburg officials hired a Portland consulting firm to analyze the downtown parking situation, and they discovered what many people who have to park there already knew — it’s a bit of a mess.
From confusing signage to a neglected parking garage to shoddy record-keeping, things are so bad that a complete overhaul is needed, the study by Rick Williams Consulting found. And the necessary changes won’t come quickly or cheaply — some improvements are expected to take more than four years to implement and the total price tag will likely exceed $400,000, according to the report.
Williams presented the report, which also included a review of parking in the Laurelwood neighborhood, to the Roseburg City Council on Monday. The council agreed to accept the study and move forward with its recommendations.
“There’s a lot of work to be done but we have to start someplace,” Roseburg City Councilor Brian Prawitz. “Basically this is a reboot of the entire system.”
The first order of business will be to develop and implement changes in the city codes related to parking, and then finding a third party vendor to oversee the overall parking program. The city hasn’t had anyone running the parking program since the contract with the previous vendor, Park Smart, was discontinued last April.
That means that essentially there has been no parking enforcement to speak of in the last year, city officials said.
In total, the downtown parking inventory consists of 1,365 publicly owned spots, including 822 on-street spots and 543 off-street spots located in six places — five open lots and the parking garage.
“Most people said that parking can be difficult to find, particularly free parking, which is not unusual in a city that has paid and free parking options,” Williams said.
The 822 on-street parking spots downtown had 13 different use types. Over 50% of parking there is unregulated and many areas have multiple time stays on single blocks. “This creates confusion, makes enforcement very difficult and inefficient, and enables abuse,” the report states.
Other problems highlighted in the report include:
- A lack of consistency and oversight with parking tickets. From 2016 through 2019, nearly 12,000 tickets were issued, yet 3,114 of those, or 26%, were inexplicably voided. Those voided tickets meant $221,090 in lost revenue during that four-year period.
- Poor financial record-keeping. The records were incomplete and at times conflicting, and did not provide clear and consistent information regarding revenue and expenses in the parking and enforcement program.
- Confusion reigns. There is unlimited parking, parking prohibited for employees, parking for the disabled, 10-minute spots, 15-minute spots, 30-minute spots, 1-hour spots, 2-hour spots, and special use spots. In the metered parking there are 2-hour meters, 3-hour meters, 5-hour meters and 10-hour meters.
- A shabby parking garage. In a survey of 300 people who park downtown, nearly two-thirds said the garage felt “dark and unsafe,” and they were reluctant to use it.
Suggested upgrades to the parking garage include more and better lighting, improved signage, new paint throughout and a deep cleaning of stairwells, lobbies, and entry/exit plazas.
Parking meters were also an issue for people, the survey showed.
“Unable to tell if meters are real or nostalgic,” one person said.
“Meters in poor shape, I had no idea they were operational,” another said.
“I thought the meters had been abandoned and were inoperable. No marking on the meters,” a third person said.
The plan calls for a phased approach to fixing the downtown parking ills.
In the first year of the program, changes would include adopting new parking codes, creating a system to track financial records and securing a contract with a parking vendor.
Year two would consist of installing new signs, creating a parking information web site and implementing license-plate based permitting in residential areas. The cost for these changes is estimated at about $100,000.
Years two through four would entail assessing compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and renaming the parking lots.
Work after year four would include installing about 260 smart-meters and kiosks throughout the downtown core, which would cost about $300,000, according to the study.
This final phase of the plan also calls for improvements to the parking garage. The cost of those improvements is not known, and would require a study to determine, Williams said.
That study would cost about $20,000, he said.