Pedestrians walk around a vehicle parked in Portland’s Monument Square on Friday afternoon. City officials are stepping up efforts to enforce parking regulations in the square, where cars regularly violate the 20-minute parking allowances for commercial loading and unloading. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The city of Portland is stepping up efforts to enforce parking regulations in Monument Square after numerous complaints about extended parking violations and unsafe conditions for pedestrians.

“I don’t see it as anything new, just better enforcement of existing policies,” city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said on Friday.

That also will mean adding signage to the square this summer to remind everyone of the rules, Grondin said. Also, some of the planters that the city’s parks team is installing in and around the square “are going to be placed in such a way to deter vehicle traffic from entering the square,” Grondin said.

Monument Square only allows 20-minute parking for commercial loading and unloading, “but there have been some business owners who have certainly been going beyond that and parking on the square when they’re not unloading,” Grondin said. “We’ve had a number of complaints over the last year or more of people parking on the square when they shouldn’t be, or staying too long. It’s been a concern of pedestrians.”

“What we’re seeing is people just pulling up and leaving their cars on the square for hours and hours at a time,” said Cary Tyson, executive director of Portland Downtown.

“It’s this big geographic footprint and it’s not striped for parking, so folks are parking willy-nilly,” Tyson added. “It really creates a bad traffic pattern. And it’s also unsafe. There are a lot of folks walking through the square – as we want them to – and some of these cars come through at higher speeds, and it’s not safe for pedestrians or bicyclists.”

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Grondin said parking control officers have ticketed the offending cars when they spot them, “but I think some business owners would rather pay the ticket than find another place to park,” she said.

“We have a lot of people abusing the parking there,” said Bill Stauffer, who owns 22 Monument Square, which houses David’s Restaurant and Burke’s Perks, among other businesses. “But at the same time, we have to have some access for businesses, because some of them don’t have any rear-alley access. It’s hard enough downtown to help businesses stay in business, and we don’t want to put in too many barriers.”

Stauffer is hoping the city can strike a “happy medium” by preventing unauthorized parking in the square while allowing for necessary deliveries – as current regulations allow.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Stauffer said, though he thinks the square’s parking system may need some tweaks, like widening its delivery corridor. “But I think it’s right to make an effort to make sure the square is safe for pedestrians to enjoy,” he said.

“We’ll see how it goes, but we’re trying to be responsive to both sides,” Grondin said.

Portland’s Monument Square “is a park, not a parking lot, and people often forget that,” said Cary Tyson, executive director of Portland Downtown, which is adding more tables and planters to help discourage unnecessary parking there. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Based on his discussions with city officials, Tyson expects the surrounding streets will eventually have some dedicated spaces for commercial loading zones to help ease the burden on the square itself.

Downtown Portland also will install four more tables next week, in addition to the three already in Monument Square, and several more planters will be installed later this spring, Tyson said.

“The square is a park, not a parking lot, and people often forget that,” he said. “This an effort to reinforce and remind folks that this is a park and a place for people.”


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