What is the current status of transportation and parking in Washington Park?
Washington Park is one of Portland’s most beloved parks; it attracts an estimated three million visitors each year. Washington Park is the site of the International Rose Test Garden, Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center, Hoyt Arboretum, Portland Children's Museum, and Portland Japanese Garden, among other attractions.
To get to the park, visitors walk, bike, and ride the bus and MAX, but most still drive cars. As a result, Washington Park currently suffers from parking issues on adjacent neighborhood streets, multiple circulation concerns, traffic congestion around the entrances of the park, crumbling road and transportation infrastructure, and insufficient shuttle service to and within the park. These challenges have been widely recognized for more than 20 years, and all partners committed to working together to find a workable and equitable solution to these long-standing problems.
Currently, non-members of the Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center, and Children's Museum pay $4.00 to park in the south parking lot using a pay-at-the-gate honor system. However, not enough revenue is generated from these parking fees to pay for all of the costs associated with maintenance, safety and security, remote lot shuttles, and other parking and transportation issues.
Don’t I already have to pay for parking in Washington Park if I go to the Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center or Portland Children’s Museum?
Yes. Parking fees have been charged at the Zoo since January of 2005. Currently, non-members of the Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center, and Portland Children's Museum pay $4.00 to park in the south parking lot. They are charged at the venue gates, on an honor system. We will be changing this pay-at-the-gate honor system to pay stations and making it universal for all visitors. Because all of Washington Park suffers from the problems described above, a park-wide paid parking plan will be in place. Rates are proposed to vary seasonally (read more below on rates and timing) and in conjunction with the recommendations of the Transportation Management Association. Many trailheads will maintain free parking. Click here for a map of Washington Park paid parking locations. There will also be a 30-minute free option at all pay stations, to allow for short visits and to pick up and drop off people.
What are the proposed solutions to this problem?
Metro, Portland Parks & Recreation, representatives from the sites in Washington Park, and neighbors have worked together to develop a new transportation management approach for the park. On Wednesday, December 5, 2012, City Council unanimously approved a key element of the plan - to form the Washington Park Transportation Management Association, a new nonprofit organization to provide a forum to resolve transportation issues related to Washington Park. The ordinance had unanimous approval by both Metro and City Councils; and City Council requested two first readings, allowing two extra weeks for even more time for public comments and input. Portland Parks & Recreation has authority under City Code to charge for parking as needed, but the Council authorization puts a comprehensive strategy in place, one that allows for this new nonprofit entity to manage transportation-related concerns and options.
The ordinance means we will be implementing a park-wide Transportation Management Plan. For the first time in the park's history, the visitor experience will begin before the visitor arrives at the park: new communication and marketing efforts will inform park visitors with real-time information about the most efficient means of getting to and through the park. In addition, long-neglected infrastructure and transportation issues will be addressed.
What is a Transportation Management Plan?
A park-wide transportation plan will provide a comprehensive approach to managing traffic, parking, enforcement, park access through neighborhood streets, infrastructure, trails, shuttle service, inter- and intra-park transit, and marketing and incentive programs. One example of a proposed improvement: as it stands now, a park visitor might get off the MAX at the Washington Park stop, but find no way to get to the famous International Rose Test Gardens…except for walking a mile on a road with no sidewalks. Free shuttle service throughout the park is envisioned as a welcome solution.
What is a Transportation Management Association (TMA)?
The Washington Park TMA is the new nonprofit entity organized to implement the Washington Park Transportation Management Plan. The TMA will provide coherent, coordinated, and professional management of access, transportation, and parking for the entire park - and serve as a single contact point for public involvement and comment. It’s in the public interest to ensure continued and equitable access to the park and its venues by regional residents, Oregonians, and national and international visitors while minimizing parking and transportation safety impacts to the surrounding neighborhoods. The TMA will do that work.
What does the TMA do?
The TMA's role and responsibility is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of access, transportation, and parking within and surrounding the park. This includes:
- Coordination and management of a multimodal transportation system that includes private motor vehicles, public transit, bike and pedestrian access;
- Monitoring and managing traffic flow, parking, signage, enforcement, and transportation related infrastructure in the park;
- Management and improvement of shuttle lots and shuttle system;
- Coordination with and linkage to area transportation systems including TriMet light rail and buses; and
- Monitoring park access through neighborhood streets, proposing solutions to resolve issues, and advocating for appropriate investment in resolution.
How will the Transportation Management Plan be funded?
Through the investment of parking revenues. Currently, non-members of the Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center, and Portland Children's Museum pay $4.00 to park in the south parking lot, paying at the gate via an honor system (and have since January 2005). We will be changing this pay-at-the-gate system to pay stations. Because all of Washington Park suffers from the problems described above, a universal and park-wide paid parking plan will be implemented. Rates may vary seasonally and in conjunction with the recommendations of the Transportation Management Association. Many trailheads will maintain free parking; and all pay stations will have a free 30 minute option for drop off and pick ups.
Who is on the Transportation Management Association (TMA) Board?
The TMA includes a Board of nine directors, with representatives of Portland Parks & Recreation, Metro/Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center, Portland Children’s Museum, the Portland Japanese Garden, TriMet, the Hoyt Arboretum Friends, and one resident each from Sylvan Highlands and Arlington Heights Neighborhood Associations. Neighborhood Association boards nominated their representatives. The TMA is recruiting an executive director at this time. Once fully formed, estimated to be July 2013, the TMA board will develop its organizational goals and structure.
Are pay stations going to be installed?
Yes, for the benefit of Washington Park’s long-neglected infrastructure and to address transportation issues in and around Washington Park. Pay stations are an efficient way to collect parking fees, and the proposal approved unanimously by City Council included sufficient funding to purchase and install the necessary pay stations for an effective paid parking system in Washington Park. All revenue generated by parking fees will stay in and around Washington Park, to improve and maintain the roads, trails, and amenities in the park, ensuring that Washington Park remains a premier attraction for Portlanders and visitors from around the globe.
How many parking spaces are available for pay stations?
There are approximately 1,400 spaces throughout Washington Park; about 1,000 of those spaces are at the southern end of the park near the Oregon Zoo and TriMet MAX station. The plan does not include any paid parking on residential streets; the TMA will take into account neighborhood concerns, and serve as the forum to provide solutions.
When might pay stations be installed and functioning?
What is the projected revenue of the transportation management and parking project?
It is estimated that a park-wide paid parking program will generate approximately $2 million per year.
How much will parking cost and what are the pay station hours?
- Proposed rates: Hourly rate $1.60 hr. with a $4 daily maximum during the non-peak season, and $6.40 daily maximum during peak season.
The option for a daily maximum will allow people to park, go to the zoo or other attractions with their families, and not have to worry about returning to feed the pay station.
- Seasons: Peak season will be April 1st – September 30th, and non-peak season will run from October 1st – March 31st.
- Pay to park hours for the Southern end (Vietnam Veteran’s of Oregon Memorial lot to West Lot and South lot in the Zoo area) 9:30 AM to 9:30 PM.
- Pay to park hours for Northern end of the Park (Hoyt Arboretum to northern entrances of park) 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM.
- Quick drop-off or pick-up: All pay stations will have a 30 minutes “free” option to allow for short visits, drop-offs and picking up visitors to the park and park venues.
What about Washington Park volunteers?
PP&R couldn’t manage stewardship of the world-famous rose gardens in the park, nor countless other projects and endeavors, without volunteers. The same is true for each of the venues in the park, which each rely on a group of dedicated volunteers. As the new parking and transportation management plan continues to evolve, PP&R Director Mike Abbaté has ordered that measures be put in place to allow all the volunteers for each of the park attractions to continue to park for free. The specifics will be addressed by the TMA, but volunteers will not have to pay to park.
How much will the pay stations cost?
It is estimated that purchase and installation of a park-wide paid parking system with pay stations will cost $800,000.
How will parking revenues be used?
Parking revenues will be used for transportation-related programs and infrastructure in Washington Park- and ONLY in Washington Park. Projected expenditures will be equitably distributed in the park and include:
- Establishment of the Washington Park Transportation Management Association (TMA).
- Completion of the Washington Park Transportation Management Plan.
- Operation of a free Washington Park intra-park shuttle and shuttle service to off-site parking lots and transit stops.
- Development of a Washington Park Master Plan to guide park improvements over the next 20 years.
- Assessment of parking, gateway, and access needs at the north and south end of the park.
- Completion of the initial south entrance improvements, generally consisting of a new gateway feature, way-finding signage, enhancements and landscaping, bio-filters, and an improved stormwater system.
- Enhanced maintenance of transportation-related infrastructure in the park.
What authority does Portland Parks & Recreation already have to implement a paid parking system?
The Commissioner In Charge of Parks already has authority to regulate traffic and parking in parks under City Code 16.70.560, Traffic Regulations in Parks.
What did City Council Ordinance passed in December 2012 (# 185799) authorize Portland Parks & Recreation to do? Click here for other viewable documents:
- Authorized PP&R Director to execute the proposed Transportation Management Association Agreement with Washington Park Alliance venues.
- Authorized PP&R Director to negotiate and enter into agreement(s) for transportation-related services, security, and parking enforcement in Washington Park.
- Authorized PP&R Director to establish a Washington Park parking trust fund for the purposes of receiving all parking revenues and expending funds associated with this proposed Agreement.
- Authorized PP&R Director to deposit up to $800,000 in the Washington Park parking trust fund from PP&R System Development Charge Fund to purchase and install pay stations in Washington Park. Parking fee revenues will repay the PP&R System Development Charge Fund including any financing costs associated with this loan.
What sort of public involvement took place?
Since 2011, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) has been meeting with the Washington Park partners (Oregon Zoo, Friends of Hoyt Arboretum, Portland Children’s Museum and World Forestry Center), as well as park neighbors, to discuss the serious issues facing Washington Park. In partnership with Metro (which manages the Oregon Zoo), PP&R started a conversation with the surrounding neighborhoods about the zoo’s expansion plans, which voters supported through a recent bond.
From April 2011 through June of 2012, PP&R and Metro hosted a series of nine public workshops to discuss Washington Park. What began focused primarily on Zoo’s expansion plans, evolved into a more holistic conversation about planning and transportation-related challenges that face the park. Throughout that same time period, PP&R met with the adjacent neighborhood associations and their leaders an additional dozen times to discuss the issues of concern to them.
It was clear to all that a comprehensive approach would be required to address the needs of the park, the attractions in the park, the park's neighbors and all of its 3 million annual visitors. In addition, it was also recognized that many of the proposed solutions would require new resources, and that parking revenues would be the most viable stable funding for these solutions.
Though PP&R had the authority to expand the pay-to-park system in Washington Park under City Code, this decision was considered significant enough to bring to the City Council for their review and to get additional public input. Ultimately, after two “first” readings allowing public testimony, and independent conversations with various neighborhood representatives, City Council passed Ordinance 185779, on December 5, 2012, which authorized PP&R to move forward with the series of improvements in Washington Park, to be funded by paid parking.
But even with fee increases – we do not base that on public input, we base that on the need to manage and maintain our assets.
Is there a Good Neighbor Agreement in place?
Yes. A good neighbor agreement is a tool to document common understandings and goals related to management practices of a business or, in this case, the park. All Washington Park attractions/venues and the Arlington Heights Neighborhood Association have signed a good neighbor agreement, which put in writing the shared agreements about the various improvements and projects needed in the park, with an understanding that the funding from parking would pay for these things. While included in these conversations, Sylvan Highlands NA did not come to consensus on the Good Neighbor Agreement, and did not sign it.
Please submit your comments here; the City is compiling all comments and will submit them to the new Washington Park Transportation Association once it is formed.