In my article in the August Sunnyside Neighborhood News, I proposed a plan of action for the SNA in coming months. At our August meetings, Land Use and Transportation on August 10th, and the General and Board meetings on August 14th, a substantial allotment of time will be spent on the topic of road maintenance and safety funding.
This is a complex topic and there was not enough space available in the newsletter to explain the position I am asking the SNA board to take. In this post (and perhaps a few others to come) I will go into the details and provide supporting resources and information for those who want to learn more.
First, for some background. In 2013 the City of Portland was awarded a grant entitled Parking Analysis and Tool Kit for Neighborhood Centers and Corridors from ODOT to conduct a study to “identify parking strategies and transportation demand management approaches applicable to mixed use multimodal places” (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/64623). In short, the city is making plans to provide neighborhoods with more permitting options, and likely the placement of meters on more commercial corridors. I think this is a good opportunity, as curbside and publicly owned parking lots are a valuable and finite resource. The historic decision to provide most curbside parking for free has had profound effects on how our cities have grown and how livable, walkable, and sustainable our communities are. I will address this in more detail in my next posting.
Concurrently, as we are all aware, Commissioner Novick and Mayor Hales have conducted a controversial campaign to raise revenue for street maintenance and safety through a street fee. This is a hot topic and I am not asking the SNA to take a position on whether the approach or amount desired is appropriate. I do believe that the city is being rather unimaginative in the sources of funding it is considering which is why I am asking the SNA to endorse a statement in the spirit of the following:
- Commissioner Novick, Mayor Hales, and PBOT have presented a need to increase funding for road maintenance and safety up to an additional $50 million dollars a year.
- It is politically unlikely that the entirety of this amount will be raised through savings gained by cuts to existing programs.
- The city is likely to levy some variety of fee or tax on the citizens and businesses of Portland to raise some or all of this desired revenue.
- The city is likely to use the results of the Parking Analysis and Tool Kit for Neighborhood Centers and Corridors project to develop and implement programs which will generate additional revenue for PBOT via parking meters and permit programs.
- Parking fees are a fair and sustainable mechanism for funding street safety and maintenance as they are a reasonable proxy for actual usage, rather than an estimate, and they capture revenue from out of town businesses and visitors.
The Sunnyside Neighborhood Association requests the following:
- Revenues from future expansions of parking management programs* be earmarked for street maintenance and safety.
- Potential parking revenue should be estimated and included in the discussions currently taking place regarding the structuring of any fees and taxes to raise desired street maintenance funds.
- Any fees or taxes levied on Portland residences and businesses should be reduced proportionally as revenue from these parking management programs becomes available.
* including but not limited to permit programs, meters on commercial corridors, performance pricing of metered spaces, and fees or taxes on private parking lots.
I recognize that this might be seen as a big step for the neighborhood to take, however, I am specifically not advocating at this time for any particular action regarding parking to be taken. My intention is to compel the city to signal its intentions on the generation of additional revenues from parking. If the city does implement these programs, it is important to ensure that the revenue isn’t simply thrown into the general fund, but is used to reduce any financial burdens we will experience as a result of the proposed street fee.
I want to hear from you. Please comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will bring this conversation to our neighborhood nextdoor.com site and our facebook page. I have initiated a conversation with our neighborhood business associations as well in the hopes that they might support a similar proposal. Please keep your eye out for more information on this topic.