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My View: Northwest welcomes parking meters


Northwest Portland has long been one of the most active and vibrant neighborhoods in the city. Our shops and restaurants attract visitors from across the metropolitan area, and our historic residential buildings have made it one of the densest and best neighborhoods in the Pacific Northwest.

But with all that success, we have long struggled with parking. People circle the block looking for parking spaces. Customers tell me and other business owners that they would shop more often if parking were easier. Residents struggle to park close to their homes and worry about parking for their guests.

For Northwest Portland to continue to thrive and handle expected growth, we need to get a handle on managing our parking supply shortage. That’s why I and so many of my neighbors and fellow business owners are pleased to see the long-awaited parking meters finally arriving. 

Working with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, we developed the Northwest Parking Plan, to better manage scarce on-street parking with an expanded permit parking area, new parking meters, and other management tools.

The 2014 expansion of the Zone M permit district has helped reduce the number of downtown commuters parking in Northwest thereby making on-street spaces more available for residents and businesses, as the NW Plan calls for. 

On-street spaces along Northwest 21st and Northwest 23rd avenues are extremely important and best serve shoppers headed to our great stores and restaurants. Yet we have been giving them away for free and not preserving them for customers. And free parking on the surrounding streets has encouraged people to store their cars on the street rather than finding off-street spaces or using transit or car share. Free parking encourages people to park longer than they need to, keeping other shoppers and visitors from finding a parking space. 

We welcome parking meters to Northwest Portland because they will help us manage our most valuable space for those who need it most while ensuring that residents and employees can find the parking they need. The meters will make it easier for shoppers and visitors to find parking. They also will generate revenue for traffic safety and public transit improvements in the area that will help make it easier for people to reduce their auto use. 

The Northwest District has long been on the cutting edge of Portland’s efforts to create walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods where people can enjoy life without relying on automobiles and the pollution they cause. 

As other neighborhoods have grown, PBOT has taken notice and started to create plans for addressing parking citywide and downtown. Those neighborhoods would be wise to get engaged as we have, and work with the city to manage parking before they’re surrounded by cars circling the block.

Rick Michaelson is chair of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee for the Northwest Parking Plan and has lived and worked in Northwest Portland since 1975. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.