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Roseburg leaders seek public input as city overhauls downtown parking

Southeast Jackson Street in the city of Roseburg.
Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons
Southeast Jackson Street in the city of Roseburg.

Roseburg leaders are preparing to overhaul parking in the city’s downtown core.

Roseburg city manager Nikki Messenger told the city council last month that the parking program is operating at a deficit. There are a significant number of broken meters that can’t accept payments and the city also has the ongoing cost of maintaining its 40-year-old parking garage. The city also lost parking revenue during the pandemic.

She said there are two ways to balance the budget – replace meters, increase rates and eliminate any free parking areas. Or, it could charge businesses a fee so their customers can park for free.

The city could also do both.

“Because free parking’s not free,” Messenger said. “If it’s going to remain free, who's going to pay for it?”

Roseburg city officials said there are some potential challenges to having businesses cover the cost of parking. When customers didn’t have to pay in the past, spots were slow to turn over because people left their cars directly in front of stores for long periods of time.

Passing all the costs on to customers can also have some unintended consequences. People who aren’t used to paying, or don’t like higher parking rates, may take up the parking in the surrounding neighborhoods or avoid coming downtown altogether.

Before deciding who pays, council members want to hear from the community. They’ll hold a special meeting on parking on Wednesday, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Roseburg City Hall.

Rebecca Hansen-White joined the KLCC News Department in November, 2023. Her journalism career has included stops at Spokane Public Radio, The Spokesman-Review, and The Columbia Basin Herald.