Mayor Sam Adams' emergency parking plan for the area around the stadium formerly known as PGE Park went out the window this afternoon at City Hall. (Obscure, hard-to-follow pun intended. In case you haven't heard, the new name of the stadium is Jeld-Wen Field for the Oregon window and door company.)
Anyway, the proposal to raise parking-meter rates from $1.60 to $3.50 an hour and to extend those hours from 7 pm to 10 pm on Portland Timbers game nights went before City Council today as an emergency ordinance. An emergency ordinance means all five council members who were present for today's meeting had to vote for it in order for it to go into effect.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz, often the lone "no" vote on proposals, suddenly found herself with a modicum of power today after she told the mayor she could not support the emergency ordinance because of a lack of community input. A letter dated March 15 from the Goose Hollow Foothills League [PDF] called the proposal unfavorable.
"We do not believe an emergency exists sufficient to outweigh the benefits of a proper public comment opportunity for GHFL, particularly when the initial feedback we've received is so overwhelmingly negative," the letter reads.
The mayor pushed hard to enact the plan today because he wanted to send an urgent message to fans of the Timbers, whose first home game in their inaugural Major League Soccer season is April 14. "The point we're making today with this," Adams said, "is walk, bike, take transit. Please do not drive to the game thinking you're going to find a parking space, because you're not."
Other commissioners besides Fritz had questions about the parking plan. Commissioner Randy Leonard didn't think that $3.50 an hour was high enough to discourage driving to games. "It's too low," says Leonard, who said $8 to $10 an hour was more appropriate.
Adams said the city was purposely starting out at that level because "we knew that we would have a certain amount of freaking out." Adams said the city could always adjust the rate later. He called this process "trystorming," which appears to be a more active cousin of "brainstorming."
Commissioner Dan Saltzman expressed concern about changing the parking-meter rates without additional City Council deliberation.
Council discussion ended with a plan to set over the parking ordinance until at least next week, when Commissioner Nick Fish will be absent. However, one change to today's proposal is already a go. City Council approved an amendment to the plan that would allow parking enforcement officials to issue warnings rather than tickets to motorists who break the new proposed parking rules at the Timbers' first home game in April.
One footnote: Tom Miller, the Portland Bureau of Transportation's new director, wasn't at today's meeting. Sue Keil, the director whom Miller will replace in a few weeks, led the discussion instead.