Downtown merchants encouraged to come back with a compromise

Broadway Street merchants hoping for a definitive solution to a controversy between one-hour and two-hour parking limits went home empty handed March 1 as the Beaverton Traffic Commission asked business owners to work toward a compromise.

Testimony was roughly split between merchants and patrons wanting to retain the current one-hour limits and others wanting the Broadway spaces to match the two-hour limits on surrounding downtown streets.

Options include leaving the one-hour spaces as is, changing all of them to two hours, changing them two hours and add more 15-minute spaces, or change the one-hour limits to 90 minutes.

Based on what he called a lack of compromise among neighboring business owners, Commission Chairman Ernie Conway opted to hold off on an official decision to retain or change the parking limits.

'One group needs long-term parking and one group needs short-term parking,' he said. 'What I have before me is all or nothing.'

Commissioner Bradford McClean agreed the merchants should work together more before the commission issues a ruling and sends it to the City Council.

'I'm inclined to leave it as is until we can have more discussion,' he said. 'What I hope for is to work with the Beaverton Downtown Association to come to a consensus.'

Merchants who spoke included Tiana Fearl, owner of Covet nail salon; Chuck Wilson, owner of the Beaverton Sub Station; Roberta Cohen, owner of Art on Broadway; and David Vanek, owner of Vanek's Shoe Repair.

Fearl and Cohen were in favor of going to two-hour limits, while Wilson and Vanek argued to keep one-hour limits to encourage customer turnover for their businesses.

Cohen said customers don't have time to browse after they patronize one business.

'With all due respect, some new businesses are being harmed by the one-hour parking,' Cohen said. 'From my point of view, I'm losing business. People poke their heads in and say, 'Gee, this is nice. Too bad I can't stick around.'

Conway asked merchants who testified if their employees parked on the street. Citing safety concerns in surrounding neighborhoods, Fearl said her three employees sometimes park on the street during months when it gets dark early in the evening.

Questions about parking enforcement cropped up throughout the meeting, and Beaverton Police Department Traffic Sgt. Steve Schaer admitted there is a manpower challenge when it comes to monitoring short-term parking.

'We have high points and low points in terms of what we focus on,' he said after the commission meeting. 'The recent focus on parking enforcement on Broadway is to consequence less and create as positive an atmosphere as we can.

'We don't want to create an environment that's causing businesses to feel like tickets we're issuing are creating a loss of business for them,' he added. 'Obviously, if more enforcement is warranted, I have no problem enforcing parking limits.'

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