At the City Club meetings many residences are unhappy with OSU, city’s plan to solve parking tensions.
While the City of Corvallis and Oregon State University are separate entities, they share problems intensified by university growth, and residents have no qualms about playing the blame game.
At the City Club of Corvallis meeting Monday afternoon, members of the club and other Corvallis residents listened to representatives from OSU and the city address their perspective on the proposed residential parking zone plan.
“(Residents) generally agree that OSU should accommodate all OSU student, staff and faculty on campus,” said President of the Central Park Neighborhood Association Courtney Cloyd.
Cloyd heard testimony from many who believe it is not the city’s job to fix OSU’s problems, but those residents have little faith that OSU is ready with solutions.
One such problem made apparent through recent contraction, especially in the old Memorial Union parking lot and 15th Street and Washington Way lot, is the lack of available on-campus parking.
“OSU should be building more convenient parking, not building on the convenient parking,” Cloyd said.
The current on-campus parking is underutilized, with about 25 percent of spaces left unoccupied daily. Meanwhile, centrally located and more convenient spaces in residential areas near north campus are constantly inundated. It would cost OSU anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 per space to build more parking.
OSU vice president for university relations and marketing Steve Clark suggested that this would still not address the underutilized spaces.
Zonal, variable priced parking is one of the changes to be implemented by the university starting in September 2014. Under this system, permits for the less convenient campus parking, like the Reser Stadium lot, would cost less than other areas, incentivizing parking on campus.
Current on-campus, annual parking permits cost $267 for faculty and staff and $195 for students.
Corvallis resident and landlord Bill Cohnstaedt said those prices act as disincentives for people on campus. He said if prices were like this when he was in school, he wouldn’t have even considered purchasing a permit.
“I would have parked a mile away,” Cohnstaedt said.
As a result of the growth, steep prices and lack of convenient on-campus parking, many residents, like Cohnstaedt, have difficulty parking near their houses.
“If I leave my house anytime in the morning, I can’t park in front of my house until 5:30 or 6 o’clock at night. Period,” Cohnstaedt said.
While many view OSU as the main aggravator of the parking problem, the city’s residential parking zone plan does not seem to propose an ideal solution.
Attendees of the lunch were concerned that the city’s definitions of residential zones, off- and on-street parking areas and occupancy rates have yet to be accurately outlined and articulated.
“There isn’t a consensus on how many spaces there are and how many people are using those spaces,” said resident Gregg Olson.
Residents who have struggled with street parking near their homes agree that there should be a new plan, but that the zone proposal may be applied in haste, without the proper research for successful implementation.
“The devil is in the details,” Cohnstaedt said. “Do they have the data to prove it’s a coherent strategy?”
Business owners with traffic needs unique to those of single family residences are also concerned that the lack of details will not address their parking necessities.
Local businessman George Heilig said he finds the proposal to be a blanket solution that doesn’t take into consideration the distinction between residential and commercial building zones. He personally has not experienced parking issues around his business but he is concerned that new implementation would create them.
“Is there really a density problem east of Ninth Street?” Heilig asked.
At the end of the meeting, the attendees still had more questions than answers and said they heard what they expected to hear from the three presenters: Clark, who is the president of the Central Park Neighborhood Association, and Councilman Dan Brown from Ward 4.
“There wasn’t much meat on that bone,” Olson said.
The Urban Services Committee, which is responsible for making recommendations to the City Council, needs to move a decision through the council by April if phase one of the plan is to take place in September 2014.
Whether drivers are commuters, students or residents, they all need a place to park, but finding an ideal solution for traffic and density that pleases everyone has proven more difficult than it seemed.
“We would all like to be able to park in front of our house free of charge,” said City Club President Nick Houtman. “But when things are in competition, something’s got to give.”