Mayor Anna Peterson’s new Parking Task Force kicked off with its first meeting in September.

The Parking Task Force, chaired by City Councilman Chuck Bennett (Ward 1) aims to discuss conditions around the city, from downtown street parking to areas in West Salem.

All members but one of the 9-person Task Force were present.  Three citizens also attended.

Highlights included both Peterson and Sam Brentano, Marion County Commissioner, talking about the parking tickets they have received.  Brentano said, “two hours is not long enough.”  He said the short time used to ‘foul up’ meetings when people had to leave to move their cars.

You Have a perception that downtown “isn’t a fun place to visit”

Jackson Jeweler’s Tyler Jackson suggested that low-cost options for employee parking be considered.

Rick Williams of Portland’s Rick Williams Consulting mentioned that Tacoma recently passed a law to direct traffic court fines to its parking fund, not as previously to it’s general fund. Salem’s fines current go to it’s general fund.

Peterson, in asking about public and private lots in the discussion, asked about the revenue from the library parkade.  Sheri Wahrgren of Salem’s Urban Development Department, told her that money was used to pay for library expenses.

Bennett said, “Do we have a parking problem?  I don’t think so.  We have a revenue problem.”  He suggested that now was the time for tough decisions.  “These discussions are past due.  They’ve been kicked down the road many times without anyone making fundamental changes.”

No mention was made of downtown business concerns about how the current two-hour limit on free parking drives downtown customers away.

The Task Force will meet through winter.  Its schedule is available on the Salem City site online.  It is expected to make recommendations to the city in early spring.