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Corvallis has a chat about parking
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Corvallis has a chat about parking

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A wise man once said Corvallis is French for “no place to park.”

A group of 60 or so sat down and held a “community conversation” about parking issues Tuesday night at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.

The event, sponsored and co-hosted by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s land use action team and the League of Women Voters, focused on parking issues in lieu of solutions, although like students in a training workshop people couldn’t resist “looking ahead in the manual” and start talking about possible fixes.

Fixes will come at an as yet unscheduled follow-up meeting that will be devoted to solutions. The data from both sessions will help inform an ongoing parking audit being conducted by the city of Corvallis.

The city does parking counts, but this is the first in-depth pro-active look at parking, said Lisa Scherf, the city’s transportation services supervisor. Scherf opened the 80-minute session with a 15-minute overview of parking in the city and the audit and noted that in Corvallis “parking is a four-letter word.”

Scherf also kept using the word “balance.” As in balancing the competing interests of commuters, businesses, employees and students. As in trying to find the right balance given that “community expectations about parking exceed the ability of the city to meet them.”

The audit, which is being spearheaded by Rick Williams Consulting of Portland, will look at six issues:

• Residential parking districts.

• Rates and operations.

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• The format and management of downtown parking.

• The format and management of parking elsewhere in the city.

• Current and new parking technologies.

• A review of enforcement.

Scherf said that the audit will be released in six individual “white papers” as the consultants finish analyzing the six topics.

Participants then worked with a facilitator at the 10 tables, examining the parking challenges faced by four stock characters in need of parking and trying to understand their issues.

Issues that came to the forefront during the discussions included the impact of institutions such as Oregon State University, a lack of – and/or a lack of awareness of – transportation alternatives, climate change, satisfying the needs of minorities and the elderly and how to arrange for a home repair service call when there is no place to park on your street.

Parking districts also were discussed, by Scherf, and by those at the tables. Table participants included Courtney Cloyd and Stan Nudelman, both of whom were members of the parking and traffic workgroup during the three-year city/OSU collaboration project from 2012-2014.

The workgroup, which met 40 times, proposed that the city and OSU work on plans that would be implemented in tandem. The university’s tiered pricing system, which was intended to persuade students, faculty and staff to park near Reser Stadium instead of the more-congested campus core, took effect Oct. 1, 2014. The city plan, which would have ringed the city with parking districts, was passed by the City Council but referred to the ballot and soundly defeated five weeks later.

The city has made some minor tweaks to its current three districts, A and B north of the campus and C between the campus and downtown. However, since May of this year there has been a moratorium in place on adding or expanding districts until the parking audit comes out.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-812-6116. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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