City Parking Politics
Say goodbye to the two hours of free parking at the Mirror Pond lots located just off Brooks Street. City parking officials, with the backing of Downtown merchants, are calling for an end to the program that allows patrons to park for two hours while they shop or run errands downtown because of abuse by downtown business owners and employees who are gaming the system, according to city staff.The city has been trying for years to crack down on employee parking though permit systems and the construction of a $9.7-million parking garage with taxpayer dollars. City officials, however, continue to document downtown employees using spaces designated for customers either by moving their cars throughout the course of the day or, in the case of the Mirror Pond lots, exploiting a loophole in the rules.
According to a staff report by Downtown Manager Jeff Datwyler, employees have been parking their cars in the Mirror Pond lots and cashing in on the two free hours, only to return and drop a dollar into the kiosk, taking two more hours and a bonus hour for the dollar.
The result is that commuters who used the loophole by double dipping on the two free hours were getting five hours of parking for $1.
The city's parking patrols spotted the trend and started writing tickets to offenders, however Bend Municipal Court judges have been tossing out the tickets because the ticketees are still technically within their allotted time based on the receipts issued at the kiosk.
The elimination of the free two hours at the Mirror Pond lots is actually less of a shake-up than it might seem. The city had initially planned to go with a pay-as-you-go system when it installed the pay kiosks more than a year ago. However, it opted to retain the courtesy two-hour window at the request of the Downtown Bend Business Association, which hoped not to discourage shopping amidst the recession.
"I lobbied for that and (the city) agreed to it. And we got a year. Unfortunately, all that year got us was abuse by downtown business owners and employees, which is really disappointing because that was supposed to be customer parking, but people found a way to work the system," said Bend Downtowner's Executive Director Chuck Arnold.
The city council is scheduled to take up the Mirror Pond parking question at its meeting Wednesday night.
KPOV Cashes In
There's been plenty of good news for KPOV 106.7FM, Central Oregon's community radio station, coming down the pike recently.
This past week the station announced that it has received an $112,000 federal matching grant to help the station in its quest to become a full-power FM station. Given that the grant from the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program is a matching grant, listeners will still need to raise $112,000 in order to receive the funds. The station is currently conducting its fall pledge drive, which continues through October 24, and you can hit up www.kpov.org to make a donation.
In addition, KPOV board member Mike Reilly said that the station is moving its transmitter from Sunriver to Pine Mountain, extending the signal to Redmond.
Cline Buttes Plan out
The Bureau of Land Management announced that it was releasing its long-debated Cline Buttes Management Plan.
The plan covers a roughly 50-square-mile section of public land located between Bend, Redmond and Sisters that has been under increasing pressure from a number of recreational users as well as adjacent development. The 32,000-acre area includes popular OHV and mountain biking trails and has a number of natural assets including mature juniper stands, native plants and river access along the Middle Deschutes River.
While non-motorized and environmental groups had pushed for greater restrictions on OHV travel, the BLM may not have gone as far as some would have liked with the plan, which preserved a significant amount of motorized access, however it does create separate use trails for horseback riders and mountain bikers in the popular Maston and Buttes areas. It also allows for more designated hiking and horseback trails on the plateau between McKenzie and Deep canyons and limits motorized recreation on the slopes of the buttes.
The plan focuses OHV use north of Highway 126 with an area south of the highway that extends roughly to Central Oregon Electric Co-op utility line.
Oregon Wild's Tim Lillebo said his conservation organization has followed the Cline Buttes proposal throughout the public process and strongly supports scaling back motorized access on most, if not all, of the plan area.
"You have a very rare resource in the river and the riparian area along the river. That's one of the key issues," Lillebo said. "The other is the deer and elk winter range. The deer have been pushed by development in Deschutes County for the last 50 years to the point of where there are only a few areas left and this is one of those places that they have to go that isn't broken up and subdivided."
Do you white water?
Whether you're a whitewater enthusiast, a summer tuber, or a fly fisherman, you should probably take note of the Bend park district's unfolding plan for the redesign of the Colorado Bridge and spillway at McKay Park. The district released its consultants' recommended alternative for the $1.7-million makeover last week and has scheduled an open house Thursday, October 29 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. to let the public pore over the plans, which include a new safe passage for tubers and boaters, a series of drops for paddlers and a safe harbor for fish.
Toss a Can Save a Kitten
The beleaguered Redmond Humane Society which has survived recent financial and management difficulties, is asking local residents to help the shelter keep its doors open to stray pets by donating their unwanted cans and bottles. Charitable folks can drop off their recyclables anytime by stopping by the shelter, 1355 NE Hemlock Ave. Information, 923-4045.