City Plans to Beef Up Security Staff at Its Parking Garages

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is looking for other funding sources after a $2.7 million request was tabled by the City Council at the last minute.

FUN PARK: A downtown parking garage became a grandstand for the Starlight Parade. (Michael Raines)

As WW first reported this morning in Murmurs, the Portland Bureau of Transportation plans to spend millions to beef up security at the city’s four downtown parking garages.

The garages are currently relying on a temporary contractor, says PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera, and the results have been less than encouraging. “We want to provide better security than we’ve been seeing in recent months,” Rivera tells WW.

There’s been “a surge in crime and public drug use in SmartPark garages,” according to an item on the Aug. 23 council agenda. That agenda item was abruptly pulled today, but Rivera tells WW that the bureau still intends to increase the number of security guards per shift from four to 14, although he’s not sure if that many will ultimately be needed.

PBOT’s current contractor has been unable to fill all the shifts, so the bureau was hoping to spend additional money to hire more guards. With the request to the City Council tabled, it’s not clear where the funding will come from.

The new spending comes as PBOT struggles to fill its downtown garages in the wake of the pandemic, and a decline in parking revenue has butchered its budget.

Earlier this month, the bureau was forced to close its little-used 830-space garage at Southwest 3rd Avenue and Alder Street, a few blocks from the open-air fentanyl market that has been the target of recent police crackdowns.

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