Parking: The solution is not just up to the city

The idea of a thorough, methodical review of parking needs and practices in downtown Hood River is a great idea (story, page A1).

Tuesday morning, the day after City Council discussed addressing parking, two prime spots in front of City Hall were taken up by vehicles owned by city employees.

It should be acknowledged that they might only have been planning to park there briefly, but it points to the central factor in any resolution of the “Parking Issue” in downtown Hood River:

It’s not about geography, it’s about behavior.

It’s not about construction, it’s about choices.

The city is right to enlist interim city manager Ross Schultz in proposing a plan to monitor and document the use of on-street and off-street city-owned parking. A regular and continual method of recording when and where people park is a critical part of the solution, yet council members who asked for minimal staff commitment to the venture were also right.

There is no need to spend a lot of money on a solution that can involve literally hundreds of people all making small contributions.

We encourage the city to also look at its partners in doing a parking review:

n The merchants and their employees, who are major stakeholders

n The Chamber of Commerce as an organization, which provides outreach and education

n Property owners, including churches, with weekday space to spare,

n The County Transportation District, which is in the business of getting people from one place to another.

The fact is that at any given time, there are spaces that could be available in the downtown core, if people who own or work in businesses would free them up.

Granted, sometimes merchants need a car close at hand, that’s understood. But routine, long-term occupation of spaces next to their own business, or next to one of their neighbors’, is behavior every individual should assess for his or herself. (It’s also an issue on the Heights, though metered parking is limited to four spaces on 11th Street.)

Where one parks needs to be looked upon this way: what is the best use of a public resource that is intended for service to the general and commercial community welfare?

This is where organizations including the chamber can help: What are solutions the business community, and other downtown Hood River tenants and stakeholders, can work together on at the same time the city gears up to gather numbers and assess the overall picture?

It’s going to take a couple of years of data to develop future options, but things can be done in the meantime to ameliorate the situation.

Maximizing the parking situation is the city’s responsibility, but the community has a role.

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