Another lesson in idiocy from Eugene City Council

The lack of common sense by the Eugene City Council never fails to amaze me. The Register Guard reported that the City Council voted 6-2 on August 11th to remove downtown parking meters from a 12 block area of downtown for a two year trial basis. This would cost the City an estimated $220,000 a year in lost parking revenue. The 12 block parking oasis will extend from Willamette Street to the east, Lincoln Street to the west, Seventh Avenue to the north and 11th Avenue to the south.

Besides the extreme financial loss of  a third of Eugene’s parking revenue, this decision has dire implications for how this city will view environmental and transportation issues. Parking meters provide the only financial incentive the City has to promote busing and biking. Without a 75 cent per hour disincentive, people now have almost zero financial reason to the the bus or bike into downtown. The financial windfall that this will bring is extremely overstated by the pro business city council. Most restaurant business activity comes from people working downtown or post 6 PM when a parking meter isn’t relevant.

If Eugene is to truly have a vibrant downtown, attempting to increase retail activity on the supply side isn’t the solution. An increase in downtown housing is the only longterm solution. There is far too much retail competition from the Valley River Center and Oakway Center to depend on people driving into downtown to meet their shopping needs. Eugene should put the parking meter money it generates, or should I say generated, into a bond account that will go towards incentives to develop downtown housing. They should particularly focus on college student housing. Downtown, with all its amenities, bars and close proximity to the University of Oregon, is an ideal place for college students to live. A vitalized downtown won’t occur with a few more people driving; it takes a large increase in the number of people living in the downtown core.

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Planning news and opinions from the Willamette Valley extending to the globe.
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3 Responses to Another lesson in idiocy from Eugene City Council

  1. Carl Muller says:

    I have to admit, when I first saw this I thought about the loss of money as well and thought they were not being very smart. But the more I thought about why it would be a 6-2 vote I realized how much I hate downtown anyway and never want to be down there and why. I thought about whats trying to be done about it, put it into perspective in the long term and decided I was wrong.
    The whole point of removing the meters is to get people to go to downtown. They not only have made that the focus of everything in Eugene right now, they are removing the meters from streets that already don’t have people parking on them all the time with very little businesses. It would be great if downtown Eugene was closed to cars and was strictly walking, but who wants to ride their bike or walk down to a bunch of empty buildings and teenagers doing meth? I guess the Lazarrs Bazaar fans. The city has to find ways to get the people of this town to fall back in love with downtown and dodge ball on Wednesday nights and Voodoo doughnuts just isn’t going to cut it. The economic development of downtown has to grow before it could be closed to cars, and that means businesses have to move in, not just art in empty store windows. This will take time, and steps, there have already been steps taken but its going to take a long time to fix something as broken and forgotten as downtown Eugene. They are doing this for two years, hopefully more people will go downtown, more business will move in and eventually it will be able to compete with the malls around Eugene.
    You also mentioned that housing needs to be built down there for college students, where would that money come from? Seems like it would cost more than $220,000. Maybe you are forgetting most college students would most likely not be able to afford living in an apartment downtown. A-matter-a-fact, just like the administration at the University of Oregon, you forget the kind of people who would be driving downtown, maybe students who have to live far away from campus and commute because rent near campus is too high, low income students. Perhaps even someone who has to move all the way to Albany. I am glad there’s a real effort being made to make downtown a great place again. I think this is a very good strategy, if it means losing two years of $220,000 in meter money for a better populated down town I think its smart planning. Not just making a decision for a short term individual hope of pedestrian and cyclist elite downtown but making a long term plan to regain the business of the entire city, all the way to the outskirts of those dirty, polluting, rotten drivers.

  2. John Bailey says:

    I agree that is a backwards step for any downtown. Failing downtowns have tried discounting their downtown for years and it never seems to work. If there is not incentive to come a downtown then free parking is not going to change that fact. It just seems to hasten the decay.

  3. This is a great post and may be one to be followed up to see what goes on

    A mate sent this link the other day and I will be desperately awaiting your next write. Keep on on the superb work.

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