Musings from outside the mainstream.
CORVALLIS – So I’ll admit I’m a bit surprised at how handily Measure 02-88 was voted down in districts near OSU. In Ward 5, one of the areas most impacted by parking congestion from both townhouse style developments that cater to college students and student commuters, the measure garnered the lowest yes percentage (31.7%).
Before the Gazette-Times released the voting breakdown by ward, my sources reported contentious exchanges in the neighborhood email lists. Those most invested in the measure from neighbors to stakeholders in the Collaboration Corvallis process felt anger and a sense of betrayal.
However, when one reviews how soundly the measure was defeated coupled with the discussions prior to Election Day, I can’t help but wonder about the process. Those stakeholders simply weren’t listening to the concerns of those outside the direct process. I have no idea how it will play out. But two issues jump out at me.
One, area residents in favor of parking districts just don’t seem to be able to hear dissenting opinions, much less factor them into the solution. The streets belong to everybody, you are not guaranteed a spot in front of your house, no matter what parking district plan we come up with. Yet still they rant on and on about bicycling and mass transit as solutions while wanting to maintain what is essentially privileged access to parking on public streets.
The second point is that OSU, Samaritan and LBCC need to provide parking for their employees and customers so that their operations do not impact the area neighborhoods as much as they do. LBCC is attempting to address this, I believe, in conjunction with Samaritan.
What I see missing is OSU.
Every building and business in the city is required to provide a certain amount of spaces for employees and customers. Some of this, in the downtown area for example, is calculated by taking into account square footage, type of business, street frontage, and then assessing the pubic inventory of spaces.
Most one or two story buildings within the downtown area will not have to provide off street parking. But when new developments come in and build up, such as the Renaissance or the recently proposed hotel, they are required to provide off-street parking in the permit process. This is the same for the much maligned townhouse style developments.
What I have not seen is a transparent and complete inventory of the parking spaces on OSU’s campus. As they have added an estimated 10,000 additional students in the last 10-12 years, I would like to see a breakdown of metered spaces and staff and student spaces.
For example, does OSU provide any free parking for their students such as LBCC does?
The point being, of course, is that every other entity operating in Corvallis contributes to parking inventory in variety of ways, including free parking. But none of these entities has doubled their growth in the last 20 years and expected the community to simply absorb their growth. OSU is a land grant institution; it has the land to include, in their tiered parking plans, what would be essentially free parking to OSU students.
We should be requiring OSU to step up to the plate and be a better neighbor. OSU should provide an incentive for their students to park on campus and an ease of use that does not offload their growth to our local neighborhoods.