By editorial board • 

Creative thinking needed to address downtown parking

The final frontier of a space to park may seem like a fantasy in downtown McMinnville, but the truth is more grounded in reality.

In fact, the downtown parking question, as affected by the pending Third Street redevelopment project, points to two distinct but connected opportunities:

* Parking availability fixes might be possible with minimal new or changed infrastructure.

* Access to businesses on Third Street will face a change, but impacts can be eased with preparation.

In any community, the problem of inadequate parking is less a physical matter than a behavioral one. When we speak of parking, it is about that sweet blend of availability, convenience and location.

Let’s face it. A parking problem usually comes down to not being able to park as close to a destination as one wants.

But parking behavior changes are possible. The McMinnville Downtown Association and McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce, along with the city itself, can increase outreach and education to downtown merchants as a way of fostering an understanding. And that can lead to change in itself.

The crux of the matter is this: Downtown parking must be reserved for customers, to the maximum extent possible.

It is not an easy subject, as it can create potential friction over both individual personal habits and some merchants’ particular business needs, including needs related to security. Parking spaces can be a lot like pews in church: People have their favorites and use the same ones out of habit.

Public agencies play a role in all this.

Long-term, whatever space needs assessment to be done by county government — its facilities so much a part of downtown — can dovetail with any parking survey the city conducts. County employees’ parking needs, for starters, can’t be separated from the overall downtown challenge.

A system of passes or permits might be considered for employees of public agencies as well as businesses. But it might take some creative public-private collaboration.

For example, on a typical weekday, the city library lot is rarely full. Designating just five of those spaces to the program as parking for employees within a few blocks of their place of business, would make a big difference. And there are other locations where additional spaces could be had, freeing up spots for customers.

It would be a plus, whatever number of spots it opens up on Third or along the coveted close-in side streets. Imagine a situation when at any time, there are an additional 25 available spaces available for one- to three-hour periods downtown.

In the process, visitors and downtown workers alike would learn new parking behavior by the time the Third Street redevelopment got underway. Those habits might be ingrained by the time improvements are complete in 2026 or so.

At that time, there will be fewer Third Street spaces available. But perhaps we would hardly miss them.

After all, changing habits is something downtown people have already demonstrated they know how to do.

Once a week during the high visitor season, a daylong event reduces the number of available downtown parking spots. We refer to the Thursday Farmers Market, coordinated by the Downtown Association. So we’ve already seen an inconvenience that works.

Ultimately, it should be up to customers and guests, and they only, to complain about downtown parking. With a few simple steps, complaints can become far less frequent.



I'm not so sure this issue is what we make it to be, I might be wrong. But it seems similar to other similar towns built around Wine. Walla Walla for example. We have two bigger lots on 2nd. Near post office is space for more. A garage area on Evans near the court house, space parking throughout 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th. A lot off of 4th "Harvest Fresh".

We close third street for summer events and night outs. Part of the joy is walking from place to place....

If anything, driving through town with turns needs better alignment, so the drivers can see both directions, I think that is a much bigger problem then parking, it's dangerous.


Web Design and Web Development by Buildable