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Parking changes proposed for downtown Medford

More one-hour parking spaces with more options to pay by phone for an extra hour could help bolster parking in downtown Medford, a consultant recommended to the City Council on Thursday.

Dan Brame of Brame Northwest LLC said two- and three-hour parking spaces accommodate three to four vehicles in the course of a day, but one-hour spaces allow seven vehicles or more in a day. He said creating more one-hour spaces downtown would make room for more vehicles.

Brame has a $25,000 contract with the city to study its parking issues.

The city embarked on a series of parking changes about five years ago that didn't sit well with some businesses and residents. One change involved shortening time in parking spaces to one hour. The analysis showed the number of vehicles using a space increased from a low of about three a day to seven or more.

“The perception when we started is there is always a parking problem in downtown Medford,” Councilor Chris Corcoran said.

Brame, whose suggestions will have to be reviewed by the Medford Parking Commission and then approved or rejected by the City Council, said, “Your parking is vastly improved over five or six years ago.”

The city recently opened a new parking lot on Riverside Avenue at 10th Street, and it is working on another parking lot next to the Inn at the Commons on Riverside.

Brame said increased pressure on downtown parking likely will occur when a new brewpub is completed in November next to Pear Blossom Park. Lithia Motors also has been in ongoing discussions about building another corporate office building nearby, Brame said.

On the streets next to Pear Blossom Park and the Lithia headquarters, the length of the parking spaces is too long, Brame said. He said the city could gain two to four spaces per block by shrinking them down.

Lithia suggested doing away with the white stripes that designate where the parking spaces begin and end, but Brame said that would be a “parking free-for-all.”

Another suggestion to improve parking is to get rid of loading zones in the downtown. “It’s like adding seven spaces,” he said.

Another suggestion is offering pay-by-phone along Main Street from Riverside Avenue to Front Street, which would allow adding an hour to the time limit at a cost of $1.

Brame also recommended increasing the number of permits issued in parking garages and lots. On the roof of the Middleford parking garage, 162 spaces are available but 205 permits at $15 a piece are sold each month. Since the roof is only about 80 percent full most of the time, Brame suggested adding another 10 permits, though he cautioned that the city needs to keep an eye on the brewery’s impact on the parking garage once the restaurant is open.

Brame suggested similar changes to increase permits at the Evergreen parking garage and in parking lots.

The city currently has a waiting list of workers who want parking permits in the downtown, said Lynette O’Neal, assistant to the deputy city manager.

Brame suggested the city not allow reserved parking spaces under the planned Skypark development on Central and 10th, but instead allow only permits. He said a reserved space is off-limits to the general public for the entire day.

Skypark is a 26-unit residential complex that would be built over an existing parking lot across the street from the library on Central Avenue. The parking lot would remain open to the public but 26 spaces would be used by the owners of the units.

Brame said it’s conceivable the parking lot could be a good candidate for hydraulic lifts that allow stacking of vehicles, a concept that is popular in Asia and in some larger cities in the U.S.

Councilor Kevin Stine wondered whether the number of parking tickets has declined, and Brame responded that more drivers appear to be complying with the rules.

Councilors appeared to support most of Brame’s suggestions, while acknowledging any changes could be controversial.

“Parking is a no-win situation,” Stine said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @reporterdm.

Medford Parking Recommendations by Mail Tribune