Portland considers ‘climate and equity surcharge’ on drivers’ parking spaces

“Helping people think there are some climate and equity impacts of their decision to drive downtown and park downtown.”
— Shoshana Cohen, PBOT


(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation is in dire financial straits. With a budget that was repeatedly cut before Covid ravaged revenues (which are largely dependent on car parking fees and fuel purchases), there’s not much meat left on the bone. At the bureau’s Budget Advisory Committee meeting Thursday night PBOT staff painted a bleak picture and asked for feedback on where to focus planned cutbacks. Staff also shared some near-term steps to raise revenue that could mean fewer cuts are necessary.

Among those “high level” near-term revenue ideas are three approaches that would increase the price of driving in Portland. In addition to raising meter rates and citation fine amounts, a new idea is on the table: The city is calling it a “climate and equity impact surcharge”. It would be a “small increase” in parking fees, “To begin capturing externalized costs related to driving into the central city.”

PBOT Business Services Group Manager Jeramy Patton said the bureau currently faces a $26 million deficit over the next five years, which would require $4.8 million in annual reductions to balance the budget. “Not to be doom-and-gloom” he added at last night’s meeting, “But our sixth year is looking at about a $22 million deficit just within that particular year alone.” And there’s no help currently on the horizon. “If you look at our our curve, it continues to expand the difference between kind of the revenues that we’re bringing in, and the expenses that are going out the door,” Patton explained.

We’ve known for years how PBOT is over-reliant on auto parking revenue, which puts them in direct conflict of their goal of having fewer people drive cars. The slides below from the November PBOT Budget Advisory Committee help tell that story:

As you can see, massive changes in the central city and significant workplace shifts due to Covid, means revenue has plummeted and remains just 60% of where it was before the pandemic. Shoshanah Cohen, who manages the Pricing Options for Equitable Mobility (POEM) program for PBOT, said the agency was already down $57 million off projections leading up to Spring 2020. “There are no easy things left to cut,” she said, before asking the committee for feedback. “We’re already finding it harder to advance our Strategic Plan goals. It’s harder to make the system safer, more equitable, more climate friendly, improve mobility and maintain our assets…. We are working hard and trying to deliver for all of you, but the reality is $57 million, you know, matters.”

Advertisement

(PBOT slides shown at budget meeting)

Patton then laid out cuts (in bold) under consideration in seven different program categories:

Active Transportation & Safety – $250,000 (total annual budget $1.7 million): This cut would delay PBOT’s work on a “Safe Systems” plan, would reduce ability to manage partnerships around Sunday Parkways and other street activation events, and would lead to reductions for the Biketown For All program.

Sidewalks Bridges & Structures – $560,000 (total annual budget $6.3 million): This cut would reduce maintenance on bridges and other structures, as well as increase time it takes to repair major equipment.

On Street Parking & Parking Enforcement – $976,000 (total annual budget $9.5 million): This cut would lead to cutbacks in customer service, reduce parking enforcement capacity, delay implementation of new parking plans, and reduce capacity for potential changes due to implementation of POEM recommendations.

Streets & Signs – $1.4 million (total annual budget $33.5 million): Would reduce microsurfacing treatments; lower their ability to upkeep pavement markings for lanes, crosswalks, and bikeways; and increase response times for signage replacements.

Right of Way Use – $124,000 (total annual budget $1.5 million): Reduces capacity for issuing permits for pop-up spaces, events, street paintings, and so on; could jeopardize Healthy Business plaza/patio program (unless PBOT starts charging businesses a fee for those permits).

Transportation Systems – $525,000 (total annual budget $3.1 million): Would reduce engineering capacity to develop a more equitable 823-SAFE outreach system; reduces number of safety enhancements made to transportation system.

Support Services – $780,000 (total annual budget $17.5 million): This cut would reduce PBOT’s capacity to support technology and communications-related services, as well as safety trainings, equity programs, and more.

With this grim task ahead of them, PBOT staff wanted the committee to give feedback on three questions: “Should the bureau raise revenue in the near-term in order to minimize further reductions?”, “What factors are most important as we consider potential reductions?”, and “How can we communicate with the public about transportation challenges and impacts?”

Slide shown at meeting.

Advertisement


(Click for captions)

To that first question, nearly everyone on the committee (and at the meeting for that matter) was in support of the bureau doing more to raise revenue in the near term. Given PBOT’s financial picture, and the fact that they’ve already gone through the POEM process (which was unanimously supported by city council in October) and have come up with a list of recommendations on how to move forward, the city seems close to releasing a proposal for increased parking fees.

Cohen laid out three near-term revenue options that all relate to auto parking: Cost recovery for parking permit programs, (raise the price of permits to cover the cost to administer the program, which it doesn’t do now); raise meter rates to adjust for inflation (rate has been the same since 2016); and add a “climate and equity impact” surcharge. That last one is the most interesting. Cohen talked about it like it would be just as much of a marketing and behavior-change move as a revenue tool. It would be about, “Helping people think that there are some climate and equity impacts of their decision to drive downtown and park downtown,” she explained. “Sort of like naming that a little bit more clearly, and capturing some increased revenue that can help to support those program areas as well.”

A surcharge that helps educate people about the true cost of driving could also set the stage for larger revenue plans and fees on the horizon. Like congestion pricing, more dynamic meter rates, another gas tax increase, and so on. PBOT has longer-term plans to decouple their revenue sources from fossil fuels so they can get away from this “weird position” (as Cohen put it) of having to encourage driving in order to increase revenue.

As for feedback from the committee, there was very strong support for PBOT to come up with near-term revenue ideas to lessen the blow of impending cuts.

“On raising revenue, this is a good time to do that,” said Matthew Grumm, a PBOT government affairs manager, while reporting back from a breakout group. “In the sense that people know that things have changed and we can use that as an opportunity to say ‘Hey, we know that things are costing more’. People are aware of that. So it won’t be a shock if we say we have to raise some of these rates.”

CORRECTION, 2:50 pm: The story initially referred to Shoshana Cohen as Shoshana Oppenheim. The latter works for a different bureau at the city and I got them mixed up. I regret the mistake and apologize for any confusion. – Jonathan

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

75 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Watts
Watts
11 months ago

Raising parking fees downtown, that’s all well and good, but calling it a “Climate and Equity Fee” (without spending the money on climate or equity projects)? Good grief! I can’t see how that could possibly backfire, especially with PBOT’s commissioner facing a difficult election. Given work-from-home, I’m willing to bet the median incomes of those still working downtown is much lower than it used to be, so it will be these lower-income folks paying the “Equity Fee”. Newspeak doesn’t get much better than that.

If PBOT needs to raise fees to balance their budget, they should just do it and hope those paying extra write it off as inflation (and blame Biden), instead of claiming it’s for some lofty purpose and getting called out when the public catches on to the lie.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

First we had greenwashing…now we have equity washing. Attaching that term does not make it so.

GlobeTrotter
GlobeTrotter
11 months ago

Exactly this! It might be boring to discuss a budget shortfall, and the need to fill the gap by raising rates. But to disguise it by throwing around progressive buzzwords is insulting to the (hopefully educated) constituency.

While I can fault a vast swat of this country with anti-intellectualism, I think Portland in particular has a problem with pseudo-intellectualism. Portland politics seems like it’s about playing a never-ending game of lefty one-upmanish.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  GlobeTrotter

It’s a performative march. More talk and posturing and less solving actual problems.

Asher Atkinson
Asher Atkinson
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Your comment is spot on. This is a perfect example for Portland’s descent from the city the works to the city that wokes. All city revenue is fungible and it doesn’t matter how it’s labeled or accounted for within city bureaus. It’s simply more money being asked of Portland residents. It could just as well be labeled the bureaucracy sustainability surcharge.

Even if revenues could be directed to specific uses, notice the transition to more abstract terms to describe goals. The art tax, school bonds, clean energy fund, and homeless services all ostensibly have measurable results, and they are all failing to deliver, so it is convenient to go back to the well using emotional triggers like climate and equity that still may resonant with enough Portland voters. It’s a bureaucrats dream to be held accountable for things that can only be measured by emotion, but it eventually backfires because fundamentally we just want a city that functions in tangible ways. Raise revenue, cut expenses, or do a bit of both, I don’t really care. Just cut the word games and deliver results.

J_R
J_R
11 months ago
Reply to  Asher Atkinson

I love the corrected slogan: The City that Wokes.

Adam
11 months ago

PBOT should charge what it costs. That number might be so high as to discourage large swaths of drivers which might greatly reduce how much money we actually need to maintain and improve roads. And add tolls.

Catie Gould (Contributor)
Catie
11 months ago

Does adding a surcharge on meter rates mean PBOT is no longer interested in performance pricing, which is based on demand? Its possible they would be collecting more revenue already if they were adjusting pricing regularly.

Psmith
Psmith
11 months ago
Reply to  Catie

I think the best way to do this is to have a pretty high “floor” or “base cost” on the price of parking, then an additional surcharge that fluctuates depending on demand. This would ensure that a temporary reduction in demand (like, say, during a pandemic) wouldn’t completely destroy the budget.

In other words, #whynotboth.

Psmith
Psmith
11 months ago

There seems to be a common misperception that there’s something wrong with raising revenue from fossil fuels and motor vehicles. Rather than being seen as overly reliant on the behavior we want to reduce, we should see it as a great way to discourage the behavior we want to reduce by increasing the cost, while also raising revenue, helping us meet our goals. I think this idea that we shouldn’t rely on those sources stems from limited understanding of elasticity of demand. Parking and driving are very inelastic, which means you have to raise the price by a lot just to get small decreases in demand. This is good news for transportation funding, because it means we can have our cake and eat it too. Let’s say we made parking downtown $10 per hour. This would both reduce automobile trips and increase revenue, because enough people out there would still pay that price to make up for the reduction in the number of people paying the price. The same would be true for higher gas taxes–lower VMT, but higher revenue. It’s a win-win and helps us achieve our goals. In the very long-term, of course, new revenue sources would be needed if driving really dropped off a cliff. But we’re a very long way from that being a real problem. Our problem right now is that we’re leaving a ton of revenue and trip reduction on the table by severely under-pricing parking and driving when demand is so incredibly inelastic.

Evan Manvel
Evan Manvel
11 months ago
Reply to  Psmith

Yes. Though I’d argue it’s not so much increasing its cost as internalizing its cost – making its costs more transparent, and carried by those who impose it.

And I would argue parking and driving are more elastic than you may think. There’s a recent study cited by City Observatory noting the “elasticity of travel with respect to gas prices is about .5 in the short run and about 1.3 in the long run. This means a 10 percent increase in gas prices is associated with about a 5 percent decline in travel in the short run, and a similar increase is associated with about a 13 percent decrease in travel in the long run.”

And parking – if there are other options – can greatly fluctuate, when the costs are internalized. San Francisco found people consumed half as much parking when it didn’t come included with housing.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Evan Manvel

It’s not so much increasing its cost as internalizing its cost

What are the external costs of downtown parking?

making its costs more transparent, and carried by those who impose it.

If this were the case, PBOT would have mentioned external costs, attempted to quantify them, and would show how increased prices reflect these costs. The worst possible way to do transparency is in complete secrecy, with a cover story that your agency just wants “Equity” money.

I love internalizing costs (one reason I strongly support a carbon tax) — but this is just about the cash.

soren
soren
11 months ago
Reply to  Evan Manvel

Joe Cortright is free market fundamentalist who routinely cherry picks data to craft blog posts riddled with confirmation bias, according to my opinion.

The US Energy Information Agency and the Bureau of Labor Standards (e.g. not some random right wing blogger) finds that the price elasticity of vehicle miles travelled is miniscule:

The price elasticity of motor gasoline is currently estimated to be in the range of -0.02 to -0.04 in the short term, meaning it takes a 25% to 50% decrease in the price of gasoline to raise automobile travel 1%.

comment image

https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=19191
comment image

https://www.bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-5/using-gasoline-data-to-explain-inelasticity.htm

Psmith
Psmith
11 months ago
Reply to  soren

I think you’re a little harsh on Cortwright, but I do agree with you about the elasticity issue. Let’s be honest here–most people have built their entire lives around driving. They choose where to live, where to work, where to go to school, where to travel, etc on the premise of driving. So even a large change in price is going to take a while to change behavior, and it will take a large change in price to cause a large change in behavior. Maybe the difference here is in time-frame. When gas prices go up by a lot for long enough, eventually people start buying smaller cars, moving closer to their jobs, etc. But no one is going to do that in the short run, especially when gas prices fluctuate. So anyway, my point was just that the City has a lot of room to raise gas taxes and parking fees, because we’re an incredibly long way away from a situation where the reduction in demand would actually decrease revenue. For quite a while, possibly decades, we could keep hiking these fees and the result would be both decreased demand AND increased revenue. We can have our cake and eat it too, in this particular case. And we are a long way from having to raise revenue from other sources.

All that said, I would support something like a modest fee on electricity bills (simpler but less targeted) or electric car chargers (more complicated and potentially infeasible for home chargers, but also more targeted), as a way to capture some of the transportation impacts of electric cars. Even though they are overall a benefit for climate, they still impact the roads, take up space, etc, and it would make sense to have a modest fee for charging electric vehicles. They’re in a weird category of things we both want to promote (better than gas cars) and discourage (they’re still cars) at the same time.

soren
soren
11 months ago
Reply to  Psmith

…eventually people start buying smaller cars

As a fierce and lifetime s**ialist it’s annoying to have to constantly point out the deficiencies of free and efficient USAnian markets (Fordism/Post-fordism):
comment image

Light trucks: monstrous pick up trucks and monstrous SUVs
Autos: the nearly extinct sedan/hatchback

FWIW, I vehemently support a large increase in gas taxes (something in the $4-6/gallon would drive rapid electrification) but this would only be feasible in the USA with transformational policies that provide the non-inner city bourgeoisie transportation options (ranging from decent high-frequency transit to lesser evil EVs). I also vehemently support outright bans on parking and driving in inner city areas (e.g. bonafide climate/congestion limits/pricing). However, I am very much opposed to the milquetoast rearranging deck chair reforms favored by market urbanists because they create a false impression that progress is being made (delay and pray).

Caleb
Caleb
11 months ago
Reply to  soren

Your opposition to faux progress reminds me of something I heard yesterday (in a discussion about reform vs revolution regarding capitalism) that resonated with me given my lifetime of others labeling me “idealistic”:

“[…]people that want to maintain the status quo are actually the idealists, actually the utopians and the extremists. This is a dying, already dead system, and to insist that we must maintain it and live within its confines is a form of idealism and extremism in and of itself.”

From https://revolutionaryleftradio.libsyn.com/necrocapitalism-0 at 30:42.

Keep up the fight, soren!

PS
PS
11 months ago
Reply to  Psmith

Its just that the problem for Portland is that there is not this insatiable demand for venturing downtown like there used to be, so it does seem that there are some nuanced externalities that may come into play than just the inelastic relationship of pricing and demand. For me, places like Lake Oswego, the Vancouver waterfront, etc. exist, so there is no reason anymore to go downtown unless things drastically change, but unfortunately for downtown Portland, behaviors are notoriously sticky, so adding one more negative thing to what is already a pretty awful experience, doesn’t likely add up to much in the way of cake and eating it too.

Psmith
Psmith
11 months ago
Reply to  PS

That’s why we need parking meters and permits in places that still do have high demand, like Mississippi, St Johns, Division, Hawthorne, etc. Or maybe it should always cost something to park on the street regardless of demand. Why should it be free to store my large piece of personal property out in the street? Seems like it would be reasonable to charge $5 or $10 a month at least for “street rent.”

Doug Hecker
Doug Hecker
11 months ago

Climate taxes and surcharges on top of the gas tax. Really can’t make this up.

ivan
ivan
11 months ago
Reply to  Doug Hecker

I agree, it sounds great!

Boyd
Boyd
11 months ago
Reply to  Doug Hecker

Take transit or ride a bike. You can avoid all the fees!

Geo
Geo
11 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

Serious question, does everyone on this site live within a few miles of downtown/work? I don’t understand why there is so little understanding of the reality for those that can’t afford to live close in (aka bike / transit is not an option, or at least not a good one).

LetThemEatBike
LetThemEatBike
11 months ago
Reply to  Geo

Single, able bodied and can afford to live within a bike ride from city center? Then you are welcome to join our club!

Boyd
Boyd
11 months ago
Reply to  Geo

So, like, employment and commerce didn’t exist before the invention of the automobile? Do you realize that the majority of living human beings have never owned a car and never will?

Doug Hecker
Doug Hecker
11 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

Welcome to 2021. Do you own any horses that I could borrow?

Boyd
Boyd
11 months ago
Reply to  Doug Hecker

Yes, and in 2021, it is still highly elitist to own a car. The United States is an extreme outlier in its exceptionally high rate of car ownership per capita. And quite frankly, horse ownership was also quite elitist in the pre automobile days. Most people didn’t own one and couldn’t afford to care for one.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

Owning a car is not at all “elitist” in the context we’re discussing.

Boyd
Boyd
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Owning a car is not at all “elitist” in the context we’re discussing.

Perhaps not. But choosing to drive a private car to an area that is very well served by public transit?

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

Is driving a car in an area served by transit “elitist” now? No, it’s not. Unless you “elitist” you mean available to and practiced by a very broad swath of society.

Psmith
Psmith
11 months ago
Reply to  Geo

Most people who don’t live near downtown don’t work downtown and rarely ever go downtown. In fact, most people in Portland and the entire Metro area don’t work downtown. It’s a small minority of trips that is mainly higher-income folks, so the impact of these kinds of things is pretty small. The vast majority of low- and middle-income households work in the suburbs, or in the neighborhoods, or in the industrial areas. The age of downtown being the center of employment was mid-twentieth century. We’ve moved on from that. Downtown just *seems* important because it has the highest job density–but the percentage of jobs in the region that are downtown is pretty small.

Doug Hecker
Doug Hecker
11 months ago
Reply to  Psmith

Do you have any numbers to match up with your statements?

Psmith
Psmith
11 months ago
Reply to  Doug Hecker

A quick Google search found this from the Portland Plan: Portland’s Central City accounts for 34% of the City’s employment base; regional and town centers accounts for 4%; neighborhoods comprise another 28%; industrial districts (outside the Central City), 25%, and institutional areas, 9%.
https://www.portlandonline.com/portlandplan/index.cfm?a=288089&c=52254

soren
soren
11 months ago
Reply to  Psmith

Many who don’t live near downtown travel longer distances to work than the average market urbanist who can afford the lifestyle of the mostly-white capitalist elite.

Doug Hecker
Doug Hecker
11 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

You must be kidding.

Boyd
Boyd
11 months ago
Reply to  Doug Hecker

No. I’m quite serious. Why waste your money and resources on expensive, luxury, private motor vehicle transportation when other, cheaper options exist?

Sigma
Sigma
11 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

Because time has value. If one can spend 20 minutes getting somewhere by car, or 45 by transit, most people with a choice will pick a car just about every time. And often people with the least flexible schedules are those going to a job with an exact shift start time, or a second job, or picking the kids up from day care, etc. White collar professional class-types rarely face a financial penalty if they are late to an appointment. There’s much more that goes into the the decision on mode choice than the direct monetary cost of each trip.

Boyd
Boyd
11 months ago
Reply to  Sigma

Sure. Time is money and people weigh multiple considerations when deciding how they want to spend their time. People choose to pay a premium to get to destinations faster and to have more flexible transportation schedules. Some people undoubtedly have absolutely zero flexibility or choices. They will utilize the fastest possible option regardless of cost at all times. But I don’t believe that the majority of people that commute by car have no choice and no ability to mode switch. Family size and reproduction rates are pretty low in the Portland metro region. It’s not as if the majority of the cars on I-5 are on their way from work to pick up kids to take them to soccer practice and music lessons. Some are, some aren’t. Those that are not under completely inflexible time constraints may look at the plethora of free park and ride facilities around the region and decide that transferring to relatively cheap transit before entering the central city is an acceptable option in some situations. But if parking rates go up enough to convince that non time burdened white collar worker to choose an alternate mode, it frees up space in the road and in parking spots for those with inflexible schedules.

We are talking about setting rates for parking on the public right of way or public parking structures in an area where dozens of frequent service transit lines converge. These rates are, in most cases, considerably less than similar privately operated facilities. If we are talking about allocating scarce resources to benefit the time burdened, it would be more equitable to improve transit, not to subsidized SOV transportation by keeping parking rates lower than what is needed to fund the transportation system.

soren
soren
11 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

“But I don’t believe that the majority of people that commute by car have no choice and no ability to mode switch.”

Let them eat cake while riding bikes on 122nd.

Boyd
Boyd
11 months ago
Reply to  soren

How about providing transportation subsidies for those with a demonstrated need instead of continuing to encourage unsustainable transportation practices for all? We’re on a trajectory to cook the whole planet. That isn’t going to change of we don’t address transportation related emissions. The people that are least able to adapt to the impacts of climate change are those with the fewest means.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

The issue isn’t that people have “no choice”; it’s that they have a better choice, and they are choosing it.

You, of course, can second guess and judge their decisions, but that’s unlikely to convince people to behave differently.

If you want people to stop driving, we need to provide more attractive alternatives. Being on a bus right now feels like a terrible option to a large number of people, both because of covid and the growing sense of lawlessness that pervades Portland, so it’s no wonder that transit ridership is half of what it was in the before-times, even as driving has strongly rebounded.

I personally think it will take a decade or more to rebuild ridership*, and that’s going to have to include improving the security environment in order to make people feel safe to be on the bus.

*Ignoring my analysis that traditional buses are going to disappear in the coming decades.

soren
soren
11 months ago

It’s darkly comical that the proposed solutions to PBOT’s parking dependency is to make its budget even more dependent on parking. As far as I can tell, Schoupian market fundamentalism has done more to reinforce Portland’s bureacratic third rail of transportation politics than any parking lot developer.

Psmith
Psmith
11 months ago
Reply to  soren

Any economist would tell you that the best taxes are taxes on consumption of things you don’t want people to consume…and we certainly want people to consume less parking…so how is this a bad thing exactly? Yes, I suppose it means PBOT will be “dependent” on parking, but it’s also not a barrier to reducing parking supply and demand because you can just raise rates in response.

In other words, the problem is not dependence on parking fees. The problem is keeping parking fees too low. If they went up automatically with any increase in demand or reduction in supply, there would be no problem with this system.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Psmith

we certainly want people to consume less parking

I’m not sure that’s what “we” want. Schoup’s argument recognizes that parking is a public good, and that we should price parking high enough to ensure some is always available, but no higher. If the city really would work better with less parking, PBOT could simply get rid of it. They control a good part of the supply, after all.

What PBOT wants is more money, not less parking.

And to answer your question, it’s a bad thing if raising fees too much encourages people conducting business downtown to do it elsewhere, assuming “we” want a vibrant downtown and not a hollow core.

soren
soren
11 months ago
Reply to  Psmith

Fixed it for you:

Any Chicago school, “markets are efficient” economist would…

soren
soren
11 months ago
Reply to  Psmith

What is Paris doing to parking?

What did Amsterdam do to central city parking?

Not only is Schoupian market fundamentalism making the city more dependent on parking revenue it also prioritizes parking availability in wealthy neighborhoods. The gall of Schoupians claiming to be opposed to parking while prioritizing the ease of a wealthier person finding a parking space.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
11 months ago

Many of these losses are directly or indirectly related to the pandemic. The ARPA stimulus funds were specifically designed to offset such costs, particularly for municipal transportation departments, for the next 4-5 years. Why has Portland not helped PBOT with these expenses with ARPA funding? Did not PBOT ask for such funding? What did the City of Portland spend their $207,895,373 on, exactly?

Doug Hecker
Doug Hecker
11 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

It’s not hard to realize that wherever the money is, it was surely wasted.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

$1.3 million of it went to subsidizing pot businesses. That leaves plenty for PBOT.

Steve B
Steve B
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Nope, that money meant to offset robberies that dispensaries can’t file insurance claims for (they actually pay taxes on these losses) comes from our local 3% cannabis tax.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve B

Uh… “nope” what? Nope, the city isn’t subsidizing pot business (by offsetting their losses to robbery)? Or nope, paying the subsidy from the cannabis tax somehow means it doesn’t count? Or nope, the money didn’t come from the federal funds, and we should pretend that dollars aren’t fungible, and whatever the subsidy dollars were funding won’t be funded by federal dollars?

What does “Nope” mean in this context?

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
11 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Yes….I don’t know why the article focused so much on budget cuts and marginal revenue measures. The City just needs to get its financial priorities straight.

ivan
ivan
11 months ago

Citywide parking permits; no publicly-available free parking anywhere without a time limit.
Prebates to all residents, based on income, up to fully paying for parking permits for those who can least afford it.
Also interested in creative ways the city could increase the cost of operating privately-owned paid parking lots through taxation, land use or licensing fees.
All of this in addition to a climate and equity increase on meter rates they are already considering.

I appreciate that PBOT should be more adequately funded by the city budget outside of fossil fuel-based revenue (I suggest transferring money from the police budget!) but in the short term this would both discourage driving and raise revenue.

It should go without saying — but some dense commenter will always squawk if it’s not explicitly stated — that increasing the cost of SOV driving can’t exist without improvements in alternatives for people walking, biking (personal or Biketown) and using transit (TriMet should eliminate the fares from which it takes only single-digit percentages of its operating budget). Just making the cost of living in Portland higher for folks who have been priced into far-flung neighborhoods ill-served by transit or safe active transportation routes and thus currently dependent on vehicles is clearly inconsistent with Portland’s values, or goals of equity.

soren
soren
11 months ago
Reply to  ivan

Prebates to all residents, based on income, up to fully paying for parking permits for those who can least afford it.

I don’t believe that this is an authentic demand at all. This is just another workshopped “throw the progressives a bone” (in order to divide them) tactic where there is no intention of follow through. Market urbanists value their precious “free market” far more than any cynical claims of concern about pricing equity. The minute there is any resistance to “prebates”, market urbanists will fold like a wet blanket and celebrate deeply regressive pricing as a tough “compromise.”

We’ve seen this before: 1) Market urbanists were happy to throw the Portland progressive income tax for transportation under the bus. 2) Market urbanists were more than willing to accept regressive tolling (so-called congestion pricing) as a “compromise” a few years ago.

ivan
ivan
11 months ago

– Citywide parking permits; no publicly-available free parking anywhere without a time limit.
– Prebates to all residents, based on income, up to fully paying for parking permits for those who can least afford it.
– Some kind of significant taxation of delivery vehicles for the privilege of being able to arbitrarily block traffic (both motor vehicles and bicycles). Delivery by truck in the city should be expensive; deliveries by cargo bikes or at hubs should be the norm.
– Also interested in creative ways the city could increase the cost of operating privately-owned paid parking lots through taxation, land use or licensing fees.
– All of this in addition to a climate and equity increase on meter rates they are already considering.

I appreciate that PBOT should be more adequately funded by the city budget outside of fossil fuel-based revenue (I suggest transferring money from the police budget!) but in the short term this would both discourage driving and raise revenue.

It should go without saying — but some dense commenter will always squawk if it’s not explicitly stated — that increasing the cost of SOV driving shouldn’t happen without parallel improvements in alternatives for people walking, biking (personal or Biketown) and using transit (TriMet should eliminate the fares from which it takes only single-digit percentages of its operating budget).

Just making the cost of living in Portland higher for folks who have been priced into neighborhoods ill-served by transit or safe active transportation routes and thus currently dependent on vehicles is clearly inconsistent with Portland’s values, or goals of equity.

Anyway, PBOT should end free public storage of private vehicles within city limits.

Douglas Kelso
Douglas Kelso
11 months ago

The City Council really should revisit the “Transportation User Fee” idea — preferably with a plan to send it to voters for approval. The fee ran into a lot of opposition before, so I think it’s better to start with the idea of asking voters instead of just imposing it.

I think odds of passing such a measure might improve if the funding was explicitly limited to maintaining existing roads and paving unpaved streets. It might also help passage if most of the revenue was required to be spent to fix roads in the neighborhood where it was collected. People would be voting to tax themselves to fix their local streets.

Even if bike projects aren’t specifically mentioned, the City could still do a lot for the bike network with the money by paving greenways, and including bike-friendly road diets/lane striping in maintenance projects.

The “user fee” was projected to raise $40-$50 million of annual revenue back in 2014. I expect that number would be higher now.

Laura
Laura
11 months ago
Reply to  Douglas Kelso

The Transportation User Fee was opposed, not necessarily on principle, but on the poor data behind it. Things like Cascade Station and PDX, IIRC, being left out, and home based businesses such as a one-person tax consultant being counted as 8 employees. One home that had been a doctor’s office in 1970-85 was counted as a medical practice. The City said it would be on the property owner or business person to prove their case…further burdening small businesses.

J_R
J_R
11 months ago

Don’t you think we need a task force, outreach sessions, and sending staff on expensive trips to faraway places to see how they do it? We can’t just jump into things like revenue increases without studies!

Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley
11 months ago

Don’t get alarmed about the many costs to society of our car centric society with the massive die-off from Covid and climate change now kicking into high gear. Parking, new freeways and bridges, etc. will be forgotten as survivors fight to survive.

Gerri
Gerri
11 months ago

This has to be the stupidest plan I’ve ever heard of. Downtown is the economic engine of Portland and it is in dire straits. No one wants to go there due to tents, human feces, drug needles and garbage. And now the city wants to make it more expensive to go there? Absolutely absurd.

Belka
Belka
11 months ago
Reply to  Gerri

It already costs more to lease office space around Kruse Way in Lake Oswego than in downtown Portland.

This proposal will only exacerbate that.

FDUP
FDUP
11 months ago

Or they could just continue to expand the parking meter network to business districts other than downtown.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
11 months ago

“much of a marketing and behavior-change move as a revenue tool”

yeah…I call BS on that.

Surprised they did not throw the term “intersectionality” into the proposal.

POCcyclist
POCcyclist
11 months ago

If they work in “disproportionately affects people of color” that’d complete my Portland bingo card…

Fred
Fred
11 months ago

Radical proposal: Every car that drives on a road in Oregon should have a meter that records VMT and bills the vehicle owner for each mile traveled. The more miles you drive, the more you pay. Simple. The rate could be adjusted automatically to charge more during peak periods (there’s your elasticity of demand) and also be income-adjusted (there’s your equity pricing) and also charge more for driving in congested areas (like downtown) and less for driving in rural areas (to benefit farmers etc). Heck – I would put a VMT meter on my bike too.

Paying for what you use at a reasonable rate is a thoroughly fair idea and should garner broad support.

Chris
Chris
11 months ago
Reply to  Fred

ODOT has been experimenting with a VMT fee as an alternative to the gas tax, but it is currently voluntary. The state legislature needs to take action to make it mandatory. Who knows when that will happen.

https://www.wweek.com/news/2021/10/13/new-numbers-show-odots-alternative-to-the-gas-tax-is-struggling/

Fred
Fred
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Yes, I tried it but quit when the state said my subcompact car paid the same rate as a five-ton truck. The system needs to be fair – a voluntary system even more so.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Fair is definitely in the eye of the beholder. To you, small cars paying less than heavier trucks is fair. To someone else, low income people paying less than welthier folks would be fair. Others might say everyone should pay the same like on a road toll. Maybe more polluting vehicles should pay more, or more dangerous drivers should pay more.

Chris
Chris
11 months ago
Reply to  Fred

The roads are designed to carry heavier vehicles than that. A 5000 lb. pickup isn’t going to do that much more damage than a 2500 lb. Honda Fit or a 4000 lb. Tesla.

J_R
J_R
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris

But the 5000 lb pickup causes lots more damage to things it hits, like power poles, traffic signals, and pedestrians, than does a 2500 lb Fit. Higher gas taxes help decrease the size of dangerous vehicles.

WR
WR
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Except, as I recall, road damage scales as the fourth power of axel weight, so doubling the weight of the vehicle (without adding axels) will cause 16 times the damage.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  WR

Once above the designed fatigue strength of the road. Below that the differences are much smaller.

Also, I thought it was the cube of the weight increase – but it’s been a long time since I read up on it.

BikeJunkie
BikeJunkie
11 months ago

would there be interest in expanding parking meter locations?
Sam Adams caved on putting meters along Hawthorne back in his term

Matt P
Matt P
11 months ago

Another crash grab that accomplishes nothing.

Richard Mudd
Richard Mudd
11 months ago

Chase people out of downtown with rampant crime, drugs, homelessness, then wonder why parking revenue is declining. Good grief…