The group's purpose was to learn how Oregon's biggest city funds and operates its downtown parking system. Portland is recognized as a national leader in innovative transportation solutions, and its Office of Transportation maintains $5.8 billion in infrastructure facilities from streets and structures to traffic signals and street lights. .
Ellis McCoy, Portlands Parking Operations Manager, began with an overview of the city’s current parking system:
- Broad stakeholder input was sought during developemmnt of Portland's Center City Plan, the Central City Transportation Management Plan, and the subsequent Meter District Policy, and a portion of net revenues from parking operations are directed back into local improvements;
- In the three meter districts, (Central City, Lloyd District, Markham Hill), Portland has 1200 pay stations under management serving 8400 spaces (about 2200 of these just in the greater downtown);
Stakeholders develop neighborhood transportation plans with the help of staff, then Council reviews and approves the plans, subsequently establishing a district with a management entity;
- Pay stations replaced single space meters largely to increase the number of methods available for payment;
- Cale Parking (Portland's vendor) provides online management of parking, including transactions as they occur on the street; the firm developed the current payment system through discussion with stakeholders and now deploys wireless Internet connections with a “pay to display” system;
- Rates range from $1.25/hr. in downtown and $1.00/hr. in Markham to $0.75/hr. in the Lloyd District; one use for the downtown's revenue is debt service on bonds for the new light rail segment currently under construction.
Ramon Corona discussed permit programs resulting from a cost-of-service review of parking operations (annually reviewed)--purposes include residential uses, construction, delivery, non-profits and public safety. Their new technology allows Portland officials much better tracking than their counterparts in Tacoma for assessment of the real cost for permits.