There are many transit options people can use to travel to the Lloyd District and attend a Trail Blazers game at the Moda Center or an event at the Convention Center. The Lloyd is one of the city’s top transit hubs – all MAX light rail lines pass through the area and it’s a hotspot for TriMet buses and the streetcar . Yet people still choose to get to their by car. With a new increase in parking fees, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) hopes to change that.
Starting in September, PBOT will implement an event parking area in the Lloyd, raising the price of on-street car parking from $1.20 to $3 an hour during large events with more than 10,000 people in attendance, such as concerts and basketball games. PBOT says this is to “encourage less driving and more use of public transit, biking, and other means of transportation” and “relieve pressure on people who live in the area, reducing traffic, and making it easier for residents and other visitors to find on-street parking.”
The event rate will apply from 8 am to 10 pm during large events that start at 5 pm or earlier and from 5 to 10 pm during large events that start after 5 pm. Right now, parking meters in the Lloyd east of NE Grand Ave only run until 6 pm, including during large events, so people who park on that side of Grand to attend an evening basketball game may be able to park for free. The increased rate will also apply on Sundays when there is an eligible event – right now, meters in the Lloyd don’t run on Sundays at all.
However, the new policy will also change the meter hours on non-event days to end at 6 pm in the entire district, including in the area west of Grand Ave, which currently runs until 10 pm. It will also increase some meter parking windows in the district from 2 hours to 5 hours.
Event district parking has been in place around downtown’s Providence Park since 2011, where it costs $4 an hour to park a car on the street during Portland Timbers and Thorns games. Proponents of the Lloyd District event parking area have been advocating for the same treatment to the area surrounding the Moda and Convention Centers for years, but Portland City Council only agreed to go forward with it this past April.
Local car parking reform advocates say the Lloyd District is particularly egregious for its abundance of car parking, both on and off the street. While this fee increase won’t solve every car parking problem plaguing the area, advocates say this kind of demand management is necessary for pushing people toward alternative modes of transportation.
But some people weren’t thrilled about the parking fee increase. In April, Oregonian editor Brad Schmidt prompted an impassioned Twitter discussion when he tweeted about the event parking district plan, calling it a “money grab.” From Schmidt’s perspective, PBOT should have first tried simply increasing the meter hours and charging normal rates from 6-10 pm and on Sundays before increasing the fee to $3. Others had the opposite opinion and called on PBOT to increase the fee even more.
PBOT is open about using parking revenue to manage the bureau’s budget deficit. In July, parking fees citywide were raised $0.20, with extra revenue devoted to funding a new Transportation Wallet program to increase access to multimodal transportation for low-income Portlanders. The extra revenue generated from parking in the Lloyd District will also go toward this program.
Another point of contention is due to the fact that the fee increase in the Lloyd District will apply to everyone who happens to be using on-street parking during applicable hours, not just the people attending the events. To mitigate some of this concern, PBOT will allow Lloyd Center residents with vehicles to opt-in to a no-citation list with parking enforcement during event days.
Regardless, the new fee increase won’t send people scrambling. The Lloyd District is rife with parking garages and lots: if residents or frequent visitors of the transit-rich, walkable area feel they need to drive a car, they’ll still have a place to put it.
Like UCLA urban planning researcher (and father of the modern parking reform movement) Donald Shoup foretold, the numbers show that pricing on-street parking according to demand – instead of subsidizing it like cities have been doing up until now – can be an effective tool for reducing car dependency. People won’t like it, because they’re used to parking their cars for free or very cheap. But if we want to get people out of their cars and onto transit, bikes and other sustainable modes of transportation, something’s gotta give.
The first event that will activate the event district parking fee increase is the Rose City Comic Convention on September 9th. After that, the rates will be in effect about 90 days a year – you can check out PBOT’s calendar of events that will trigger the fee increase on their project website.
Taylor has been BikePortland’s staff writer since November 2021. She has also written for Street Roots and Eugene Weekly. Contact her at email@example.com