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Green light for parking change

Medford adopts 'one-block' downtown rule; some say switch won't make much difference

Restrictions on downtown parking have been made less onerous, but some downtown business people say more needs to be done.

Beginning March 1, drivers must move their cars one block, instead of the previous minimum of 750 feet, when they've reached the parking time limit.

The Medford City Council approved an ordinance amendment Thursday which simplifies a regulation that used to require both on- and off-street parkers to move their cars about three blocks.

It's easier to understand, said Medford Urban Renewal Agency Director Don Burt. 750 feet ' that's pretty discretionary.

He said the agency, which administers downtown parking, recommended the change after hearing complaints from downtown employees and customers. With the new regulation, people whose business downtown is not completed by the time their parking limit is up can move their cars just into the next block.

'Obviously that's an improvement, said Kate Crowston, an independent interior designer through Medford Interiors on Main Street.

She said another improvement would be to better educate drivers about the availability of the parking structure at the corner of Sixth Street and Riverside Avenue. She says they either don't know the parking structure is right there behind the store, or they can't figure out how to enter the parking structure, since the entrance is on Sixth Street and not Main Street.

She said customers also express frustration because when the Rogue Community College is in session, there is much less available parking on Main.

The parking is really consumed by students, she said.

Jerry Horton, co-owner of Lawrence's Jewelers, agrees that the students take up parking that downtown businesses would like to see left available for customers.

It really irks me when all the parking spaces on the street are taken and people get out of their cars and they're walking to the college. They're walking to the college!

Horton didn't think the regulation change would help Lawrence's customers any.

All this is going to do is just enable students to move their cars (more easily), he said.

But Erna Hopkins, an employee of Lawrence's, thought the change would help for customers whose shopping involves consultation or visits to more than one shop.

I think that's a great idea, she said.

Urban renewal agency officials say it isn't their role to regulate who uses the spaces.

It's the parking district's charge to provide parking for all downtown users, said Jackie Rodgers, office administrator for MURA. She said that as long as students abide by parking regulations there's nothing the agency can do.

MURA administers the parking codes and regulations, and contracts with Diamond Parking Service, which enforces the parking regulations.

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A parking enforcement employee of Diamond Parking Service, who declined to give her full name, checks cars Thursday in downtown Medford. New parking rules adopted by the City Council will ease the restrictions on downtown parking. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell