Deputy City Manager: “I don’t know how much money students have, but I do know how much a latte costs”
By Elijah Sullivan
Deputy City Manager Bill Hoke met with community members to discuss Medford’s parking policies but ended up drawing harsh criticism when he insisted that students should be paying more for current service levels.
“I don’t know how much money students have, but I do know how much a latte costs,” Hoke said, implying that students who can afford a $3.50-coffee drink every day can afford the proposed $25 tickets.
Remarks like this only exacerbated the animosity between the downtown community and city parking officials and led many to comment that the Parking Commission seeks to exploit the presence of Rogue Community College.
The meeting took place at the college on April 28.
Attendees were quick to point out what would happen to the economy in the downtown area if students stopped buying those lattes every day.
“Think about what would happen without us,” RCC instructor Claire Krulikoski asked.
Dean Wendle, a member of RCC’s Board of Education, reminded the Parking Committee that the Medford Urban Renewal Agency made promises to RCC to encourage the college to settle in Medford. Among these was the pledge to create an educational district in what is roughly the same area as the one effected by the new plans. Wendle said he was “very disappointed” by the City of Medford’s lack of consideration for the college.
One local merchant told attendees: “I want to make sure all you know [that] if it was up to the downtown merchants, I can tell you what they would say: 100 percent free, all the time.”
The effected area is made up of several square blocks stretching from East Sixth Street to East 10th Street, encompassing the entire college campus and most of the surrounding parking from Riverside Avenue to South Front Street. Maps displayed via overhead projector showed that the effected area of the policy changes is roughly the same area as the Riverside campus and surrounding parking structures.
Attendee Bruce Cook, who identified himself as an RCC student with some city planning experience, roundly dismissed the policy plans as a sham. “All I see here is revenue generation. There is no benefit to the customer.”
There is over $90,000 in ticket fees remaining to be collected, Hoke said, which the City needs badly to replenish their hemorrhaging budget.
The same option would also allow the city to garnish the wages of citizens who owe parking fees. One attendee pointed out that enrollment is up because unemployment is up, therefor “there are no wages to garnish.”
Another said, “If this new policy effected the richest side of Medford instead of the poorest, it would never pass.”
Rumors have long circulated that business owners on the other side of Riverside Avenue in the area of Oakdale are rarely ticketed despite parking all day in 3-hour parking zones. Hoke conceded that, “Oakdale is intermittently enforced when it maybe should be totally enforced.”
The Parking Commission will not even be offering students discounts on permits unless RCC helps by subsidizing them, Hoke said.
Hoke reminded community members that the plan was still open to revision. “Some people say there is another option: throw out the plan. Don’t have a plan.” The audience replied with applause.
Changes will not take effect until 2011 should either plan be approved.
The two parking plans are detailed below. Please leave your comments in the comment field below or write in to the editors of your locals papers with your opinions.
THE PARKING PLANS:
– Increase fines for overtime parking and non-payment of tickets: $25 for first and second tickets; $50 for tickets 3 and up in any 60-day period. (Counting “resets” after 60 days and tickets will be $25 again.) PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: No. The enforcement company has the ability to track this information. The 60-day period starts with the first ticket. “If no tickets for 60 days, the time limit restarts fresh.”
– Free one- and two-hour parking on streets outside of the Core area. Time adjustments will be made in cooperation with businesses and needs. PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: No. Permits would cost $30/month for inside the garages in order to sustain higher management cost of Plan 5B.
– Carpool spaces will be provided at convenient locations. PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: Yes.
– Pay-by-Space machines in Central A, Central B, Library, Craterion, and Bartlett lots. Rate of $.50 for the first hour, $1 for each subsequent hour. No time limit to park in these lots. Machines will accept credit/debit cards, cash, or “by cell phone account [sic].” PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: Yes.
– Pay-by-Space machines in Bear Creek lots, rate of $2 for 4 hours and $4 for all-day parking. No charge for Senior Center parking. PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: Yes.
– Pay-by-Space machines near HEC/RCC, on Central from Main to 10th, on 8th St. from Front to Riverside, on 9th St. from Front to Bartlett, and on Bartlett from Main to 8th St. (Many of these block faces are adjacent to parking lots from RCC or HEC.) PLAN 4B: Yes; provides additional revenue. PLAN 5B: No; no pay stations because it will not bring in additional revenue in the Core area, “the area with the heaviest use.”
– One-hour time limits on streets adjacent to pay station area – Main St., Riverside, and Front St. only. PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: No; one-hour parking on more streets around the Core to prevent spill-over and competition with pay stations. Plan 5B would require more 1-hour spots.
– Free parking for up to 3 hours in Middleford and Evergreen parking garages (current policy). PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: Yes. The current policy gives students and shoppers an alternate to street parking in the Core. It is estimated that these parking structure policies will not effect the bottom line.
– Permits for parking on roof of Middleford and Evergreen garages and in basement of Evergreen garage for $10/month. PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: No. Permits would cost $15/month for rooftops and basements of the garages in order to sustain higher management cost of Plan 5B.
– Parking in middle floors of said garages would be $25/month. PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: No. Permits would cost $30/month for inside the garages in order to sustain higher management cost of Plan 5B.
– Permits would be sold in 3-month increments. PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: Yes.
– Free parking on-street outside of the Core area and fringe with one- and two-hour limits based on proximity to pay stations and business needs. PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: Yes.
– Free 15-minute space in entire parking district where required for business use. PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: Yes.
– Encourage merchant validation of parking fees when customer provides receipt by offering discounted card for futgure free parking and/or payment of initial parking fee. PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: Yes.
– Strongly recommend discontinuing validation of parking tickets by merchant for over-time parking. PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: No; continue ticket validation, but raise cost to $5 for a $25 or $50 ticket. Consultant recommended discontinuing use of ticket validation program because it “seems to show preference to one type of user over another, i.e. shopper vs. student.”
– Monthly permits after Expenses that could be reinvested in downtown. PLAN 4B, this would amount to about $66,000 for the first year, and $116,000 each subsequent year. PLAN 5B: $104,000 (first year) and $54,000 after that. This is only true if there is no signage upgrade under either plan. (Signage was hotly debated during the meeting, with attendees complaining additional signage would be costly and condescending.)
– Revenue continues to grow in future years to cover operating costs, future capital maintenance, and increased security. PLAN 4B: Yes. PLAN 5B: No.