EUGENE, Ore. — The upcoming budget discussions could mean the end of the free downtown Eugene parking program.
City staff presented the findings of two studies that evaluated the free two-hour parking area. The studies found businesses and customers like the program, but employees in downtown are taking some of the parking spots.
Re-installing parking meters could mean an additional $300,000 to the city’s general fund because of the revenue the meters would generate. That may be needed as the city evaluates the budget and the shortfall that’s projected in the millions.
“Rather than being an employee parking program and an inconvenience to some people, that becomes problematic for me,” said Eugene Councilor Alan Zelenka. “When it comes to the budget committee, I hope we look at this real strongly as a revenue.”
Some councilors are concerned about what adding the meters back to the 12 block area will mean for the perception of downtown.
“Fifty-four percent of all people surveyed said they would absolutely come downtown less if we take it away,” said Eugene Councilor Mike Clark. “I really don’t know what my colleagues are thinking.”
No changes are imminent, but the council’s looking at all of its options as it weighs a projected budget shortfall.