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Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-PLAY (7529)

Fax: 503-823-6007

1120 SW Fifth Ave., Suite 1302, Portland, OR 97204

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s going on in Washington Park?
Since January 10, 2014, parking pay stations have been active in Washington Park. All parking proceeds are being reinvested in improvements in and around the park, including:

  • Better maintenance and security
  • Free park-wide shuttle service
  • A new park master plan
  • Improved safety for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and visitors with disabilities (for example: better signs, barrier-free sidewalks, and crosswalks)

All drivers must pay to park where indicated in Washington Park. This includes members of all Washington Park attractions such as the Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum, World Forestry Center, Hoyt Arboretum, and Portland Japanese Garden.

Quick drop-off or pick-up: The first 30 minutes of every transaction are free, which allows for short visits and drop-offs. So for a visit of 30 minutes or less, you need not pay at all. Just visit a pay station and follow the instructions for your free 30 minutes.

Don’t I already 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. Under the prior, pay-at-the-gate honor system, non-members of the Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center, and Portland Children's Museum paid a flat daily rate of $4 to park in the south parking lot. The new Pay to Park system requires all visitors, members and non-members alike, to pay for parking at pay stations in Washington Park. This makes the parking system universal for all visitors and will help alleviate the parking and transportation-related problems described above.

Parking rates vary seasonally (read more below on rates and timing) and in conjunction with the recommendations of the Transportation Management Association. Many trailheads maintain free parking. Map of Washington Park paid parking locations

I am a member of a Washington Park attraction (Oregon Zoo, Children's Museum, etc). Do I still need to pay to park?
Yes, beginning Friday, January 10, 2014, everyone, members included, must pay for parking.

How much will parking cost and what are the pay station hours?

  • Rates: Hourly rate $1.60 with a $4 daily maximum during the non-peak season, and $6.40 daily maximum during peak season.
  • Seasons: Peak season is April 1-September 30, and non-peak season is October 1-March 31.
  • Hours: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 (Hoyt Arboretum to northern entrances of park) - 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM.
    The option for a daily maximum allows 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.
  • Quick drop-off or pick-up: All pay station transactions will include 30 minutes of free parking. Simply select the "30 min free" button to allow for visitor drop-offs and pick-ups.

What about Washington Park volunteers?
All partners greatly value the efforts of volunteers. The partners, including the Washington Park TMA, Portland Parks & Recreation, and the Washington Park attractions, are working together to address the needs of the volunteers. Contact the volunteer coordinator at your attraction for more information.

I have a regular disabled placard. Do I still need to pay to park?
Yes, beginning January 10, 2014, individuals with regular disabled placards must pay to park. Individuals displaying "Wheelchair User" placards, please see next question.

I have a wheelchair user disabled placard. Do I still need to pay?
No, individuals with disabled placards that clearly state "WHEELCHAIR USER" are not required to pay.

What about RVs (recreational vehicles)? Do they have to pay to park?
Yes, all vehicles, including RVs, must pay to park. It has been, and remains, difficult to navigate and park RVs in Washington Park due to their large size and the park's topography. RVs are not permitted in areas marked by sign as restricted to oversize vehicles.

Are there spots just for motorcycles? Do motorcyclists need to pay to park?
There are some designated motorcycle parking spots throughout Washington Park; they can also be parked in a traditional parking space. Motorcyclists must also pay to park. Paid parking will be universal for every vehicle beginning on Friday, January 10, 2014.

Do you have to pay to park at Washington Park on holidays?
Yes, beginning Friday, January 10, 2014, paid parking hours will be in effect every day of the year.

How exactly 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:

  1. Funding of the Washington Park Transportation Management Association (TMA).
  2. Completion of the Washington Park Transportation Management Plan.
  3. Operation of a free shuttle within Washington Park, as well as shuttle service to off-site parking lots and transit stops.
  4. Development of a Washington Park Master Plan to guide park improvements over the next 20 years.
  5. Assessment of parking, gateway, and access needs at the north and south ends of the park.
  6. 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.
  7. Enhanced maintenance of transportation-related infrastructure in the park.

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. It 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 are 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 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.

What are the proposed solutions to this problem?
Metro, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), 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; City Council requested two first readings, allowing two extra weeks for even more public comment and input. PP&R 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 is 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
  • Monitoring park access through neighborhood streets, proposing solutions to resolve issues, and advocating for appropriate investment in resolution

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, Portland Japanese Garden, TriMet, Hoyt Arboretum Friends, and one resident each from Sylvan Highlands and Arlington Heights Neighborhood Associations. The boards of these Neighborhood Associations nominate their representatives. The TMA has hired an executive director and is working on development of its organizational goals and structure.

Why pay stations?
Pay stations are the best way to enhance Washington Park's long-neglected infrastructure and to address transportation issues in and around the 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 or call for any paid parking on residential streets; the TMA will take into account neighborhood concerns, and serve as the forum to provide solutions.

When were the pay stations activated?
Friday, January 10, 2014

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 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.

What authority does Portland Parks & Recreation 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 #185799 (passed in December 2012) authorize Portland Parks & Recreation to do? Click here for other viewable documents.

  1. Authorized PP&R Director to execute the proposed Transportation Management Association Agreement with Washington Park Alliance venues.
  2. Authorized PP&R Director to negotiate and enter into agreement(s) for transportation-related services, security, and parking enforcement in Washington Park.
  3. 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.
  4. Authorized PP&R Director to deposit up to $800,000 in the Washington Park parking trust fund from the 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 the 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 to discuss their issues of concern.

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 three 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, and continues to have, the authority to expand the pay-to-park system in Washington Park under City Code, the decision to implement it, along with the establishment of the TMA, 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.

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 puts 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 enhancements. While included in these conversations, the Sylvan Highlands Neighborhood Association 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.

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