“They could really use some fresh ideas and new blood.”
— Tony Jordan, Portlanders for Parking Reform
Not all of the City of Portland’s dizzying array of advisory committees are created equal. Some are merely rubber stamps, others dive deep into wonky policy details to make substantive changes. Some are filled with bright-eyed volunteers, others are filled with lobbying pros paid to show up and represent a specific interest.
Then there’s the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee (TPAC) of the Central Eastside Industrial Council, one of the only committees that actually gets to spend real money and has a history of bending the City of Portland’s will to their favor. Tasked with oversight of a growing and dynamic part of of our city, this committee has an annual budget of nearly $2 million and its members exercise significant influence over a host of issues and projects.
And right now the they’re looking for seven new members — nearly half their total membership.
Given the key projects that will go through the CEIC in the coming years — the Green Loop, Central City in Motion bikeways, bus lanes, the new Blumenauer Bridge just to name a few — we’ve got to have smart, open-minded, forward-thinking people on this committee.
Formed in 2012 when City Council passed the Central Eastside Parking Management Plan (PDF), TPAC receives funding from parking meter revenue.
In recent years they’ve used that revenue to fund dubious projects. One of them was a shuttle bus that drove employees from parking structures owned by TPAC members to offices in buildings owned by TPAC members. The shuttle, which shut down earlier this year, cost $250,000 per year (and remember that’s money that goes to City of Portland via parking meter revenue and is then distributed to the TPAC) and had only about 1,500 annual riders. The TPAC also voted to spend the money on private security patrols.
Last year TPAC unexpectedly came out in opposition to protected bike lane projects in PBOT’s Central City in Motion Plan because, as their Executive Director Kate Merrill said, “We can’t handle the loss of 250 parking spaces.”
Founder of Portlanders for Parking Reform Tony Jordan follows the committee closely. While he says some of the TPAC’s parking management policy is “among the most advanced in the country” he thinks they’re missing the boat. “I’ve never gotten the feeling the committee fully embraces the reality that we can’t just build wider roads and more parking garages in the 21st century. They have used hundreds of thousands of dollars on feasibility studies for parking structures and the infamous, and now defunct, Water Avenue Shuttle.”
“They could really use some fresh ideas and new blood,” Jordan says.
TPAC is looking to recruit seven new voting members and four non-voting members. Since they can only have up to 15 voting members, this is a real opportunity to change the dynamic of this committee. Applications are open until December 15th and spots are open to anyone who lives in Portland. Find the application and more details on the City’s website.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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