BEND, Ore. - If you've ever struggled with parking in downtown Bend, you're not alone.
Outside In employee Katie Stahlhuth knows the frustration well.
"Its definitely gotten a little more congested as it's gotten warmer, and people are out and about more often, so it's just a couple extra feet every day trying to find a parking spot" she said Thursday.
Now, that's expected to change in the next four years.
The Bend City Council on Wednesday night unanimously approved a downtown strategic parking plan, which includes hiring a parking demand manager.
City Councilor Nathan Boddie explained, "It's basically someone that will be coordinating all the proposals in the parking study and working to keep downtown moving and keep business with foot traffic and folks able to park. So that position will come along as we roll out the implementation of this study."
In the next 48 months, the plan calls for eliminating free parking at the Mirror Pond parking lot, selling permits to long-term parkers, renaming public parking facilities by address, expanding the bike parking network, safety and lighting improvements to the downtown parking garage and exploring shuttle options.
The plan is very customer- and visitor-based, which will be helpful to businesses as well, said Lulu's employee Leah Cassidy,.
"People come in and they want to shop and have lunch on the same day, but they have to choose, one or the other," she said "So it's really frustrating when you're in the middle of the sale and they have to run and leave."
But Boddie said he wants to make sure we don't forget the downtown employees.
"We don't lose track of or ignore our employees downtown who might be in retail, food service, in the service industry, they're really a huge portion of our population in Bend," he said. "I want to make sure we're not penalizing for coming to their job and going to work."