The conversation began with an introduction to parking in Corvallis by Lisa Scherf, Transportation Services Supervisor, who provided background on Corvallis parking programs and policies. Scherf’s presentation indicated that Corvallis does not have a culture of charging for parking. Charges for parking are mainly downtown, on and near Monroe Avenue, and 12 spaces on 15th Street.
Parking is complicated.
Every decision is a balance— Lisa Scherf, Transportation Services Supervisor
Scherf also discussed a parking audit and parking management suggestions to be provided by Rick Williams Consulting. These consultants bring “the combination of policy expertise and hands-on experience in parking systems.” The consultant will be sharing with the community a set of six white papers on various parking issues and management options.
Scherf emphasized that on-street parking is a public commodity that belongs to everyone. As a result, most parking decisions involve a balance between competing interests. Scherf covered parking controls like meters, signage, and unrestricted areas. The most common mode of parking in Corvallis is unrestricted, which means anyone can park in an unrestricted area, within general limits (24 hours downtown, outside of enforcement hours, and 48 hours outside of downtown). Revenues for enforcement come from fees and fines that currently do not provide the level of enforcement expected by the community. Enforcement is critical in managing competing parking interests.
She said that downtown is a very complex parking system. It has four levels. The core is free. Around the core is short-term metered parking, followed by long-term metered parking. Beyond that is unrestricted parking and Parking District C. The City works with the Downtown Parking Committee. Downtown parking policy has to include the allocation of a limited amount of parking, the historic assessment of businesses to establish the three City-owned parking lots and the Free Customer Parking Area, the desire to make downtown attractive to potential customers who drive there, and the parking rules for downtown that are in the municipal code.
Scherf said that the City uses parking districts to manage some congested residential areas around OSU. Three residential parking districts surround areas adjacent to OSU. The City and OSU cooperated in the creation of OSU’s zonal parking system and an expansion of parking districts near campus that was brought to a vote in 2014. The City part of the expansion was voted down, and OSU’s zonal system went into operation.