ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
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Bosterson
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Bosterson » December 27th, 2018, 9:15 am

Another vote for the P-PEP plan! It's asinine to think they'd create a parking fee at the I-84 lot (which we want people to use, vs the Old Hwy) when there's that much unused space. The traffic cluster at the Old Hwy lot in front of the Lodge should definitely be addressed - I specifically mentioned in my comments to ODOT that they need to redesign that lot so people can't back up into traffic, turn left across traffic, etc. Realistically, I would bet most of those spots are being taken up by "tourists" rather than "hikers" (including people who never go past the top of the falls in the "tourist" category), so time limits might help, but the parking itself needs to be redesigned.
Splintercat wrote:The other thought I would put out there is that any sort of actual pricing on parking in the Gorge is likely to be a money-loser for ODOT. ...the number of trailheads that ODOT manages parking for in the Gorge is really unlikely to generate more than what it might cost to actually run the system -- with the goal being to spread out demand and reduce impacts on the Gorge, not raise money.
The ODOT proposal specifically cites "revenue generation" as one of the goals of this project. Implementing a system that loses money would be asinine (again!) if they're losing money to run a system that does nothing except increase demand (due to scarcity), as many of us have noted. If they simply want to limit the number of people who access the waterfall corridor, they simply have to redesign the roads and parking areas, limit available parking spaces (no more overflow parking on the shoulder!) and actually enforce existing parking laws. If the lot is full, you go elsewhere; if the lot requires a reservation, everyone reserves in advance for every day. Please see what has happened to the Enchantments.
Guy wrote:
December 27th, 2018, 8:07 am
A few thoughts on the Equity part of this.

...It's not just a question of equity in being able to afford to park. It's a transfer of money from the the private to the public sector. Less people will be able to buy a coffee or a sandwich during the day because of the parking fee. I'd argue that buying the coffee does more good than paying into a money [losing] government parking scheme.
Guy, your "transfer of money" argument sounds like some fiscal conservative voodoo economics ;) (the last few decades of this country have exemplified that effect in precisely the opposite direction, on a massive scale), however I agree with you that the size of the fee does not bear on the merits of the equity question. I have seen many people contend (including Tom in his 2016 blog post) that a "small" parking fee is harmless, that capital is already required to get to trails so adding on small fees doesn't matter, etc etc etc. As you note, every $5-15 someone spends on a parking fee is $5-15 they can't spend on something else, whether it's food, coffee (hello! Portland has many small coffee businesses that depend on your patronage to support their jobs!), or even saving for a rainy day.

The argument that one already has to have a car and gas to get to the waterfall corridor is similarly spurious. People already own cars to commute to work, and even very low income people have cars. I do not think that someone who breaks their back for minimum wage in a service job could be thought of as being awash in disposable income simply because they own a car. Similarly, the gas argument also doesn't hold water: if you take Multnomah Falls as being 30 miles from Portland, and a car gets 25mpg, and gas is $3/gallon, that is a whopping $7 in gas round trip. One could argue the parking fee is similarly negligible, but at present a car is required to get to Multnomah Falls for most people (especially once you factor in time for those who can't wait around for public transportation) so the gas cost is a baseline requirement, whereas the parking fee is not.

If a movie costs $50 for the "family of four" demographic, a trip to Multnomah Falls (to see nature, which I think we all support) would therefore cost... $7. Once you add in a $5-15 parking fee, we're at $12-22. That difference matters to some people.

Also, recall the furor over the NWFP, which has a $30 annual pass option. Presumably there will not be an "annual" option for Gorge parking, so if you hypothetically go to the Gorge once every weekend for a year, that's $250 in parking fees if it costs $5. At $15 to park per trip, it's close to $800 per year - the cost of an annual gym membership, or an annual cell phone plan. Plenty of people would forego a gym membership because it costs too much, so if we want to ensure/encourage visitation to public and wild lands, shouldn't we be sure it's absolutely necessary before imposing that level of burden on the public? And as noted previously, we currently have other tools at our disposal.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Splintercat
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Splintercat » December 27th, 2018, 10:01 am

Nat, thanks for commenting to ODOT -- not many take the time to do that. Democracy in action!

On the "pave more of the Gorge for parking" plan (just kidding... sort of...), the problem with putting that parking at Multnomah Falls is that there's only one lodge, one Benson Bridge and one 6-foot trail to the top of the falls. In the proven "build it and they will come" school of transportation behavior, more parking will simply bring more people to places like Multnomah Falls at the times when crowding is most destructive (weekends and holidays). So, that's the balancing act ODOT is navigating with the USFS.

One idea that I think I floated on the blog was added parking capacity at the old Bridal Veil Mill site and at the Ainsworth Interchange, where the post-fire logs were stacked. These would be serve a free shuttle though Waterfall Alley during peak periods and also overflow for Angels Rest currently parked on the shoulder of the HCRH (see another blog post where I proposed a 1-way loop trail to Angels Rest that would cut the trail impacts in half, overnight -- and make for better hiking experiences during peak periods).

But Jerry hits the nail on the head, here:
"Fee for parking would discourage users, but then where will we go? Better to have an alternative that attracts users away from congested areas."
IMHO, the Gorge has plenty of capacity to serve our growing population with quality, sustainable trail recreation for decades or even centuries to come. But this means building more trails that offer great experiences, so that's one of my main motivations for being involved in TKO. Right now because of Republican rule over much of the past 38 years in DC, our federal land agencies are decimated and mostly focused on selling off timber and mining rights to corporations. Their meager recreation staff are scraping along, with very little appetite to actually expand trails and trailheads to better serve people. In the Gorge, the Forest Service trail crews have dwindled two one quarter of what they were as recently as the 1990s.

That's got to change, but it will take time... and informed voters... and Millennials stepping in to clean up after the locust-like devastation of the Baby Boomers... who aren't quite dead yet, and will now demand that all public monies be spent to bail them out for not having saved for their own retirement... but that's a larger topic... ;-)

Tom :-)

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retired jerry
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by retired jerry » December 27th, 2018, 12:30 pm

"and Millennials stepping in to clean up after the locust-like devastation of the Baby Boomers... who aren't quite dead yet, and will now demand that all public monies be spent to bail them out for not having saved for their own retirement"

ha, ha, good one :lol:

yeah, we're going to have to die off before we fix a bunch of problems. Even in 10 years things should get better. Maybe we won't vote when we're in dementia homes and what will they call the next group after millennials?

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Guy
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Guy » December 27th, 2018, 3:10 pm

Bosterson wrote:
December 27th, 2018, 9:15 am
Guy, your "transfer of money" argument sounds like some fiscal conservative voodoo economics ;) (the last few decades of this country have exemplified that effect in precisely the opposite direction, on a massive scale), however I agree with you that the size of the fee does not bear on the merits of the equity question. I have seen many people contend (including Tom in his 2016 blog post) that a "small" parking fee is harmless, that capital is already required to get to trails so adding on small fees doesn't matter, etc etc etc. As you note, every $5-15 someone spends on a parking fee is $5-15 they can't spend on something else, whether it's food, coffee (hello! Portland has many small coffee businesses that depend on your patronage to support their jobs!), or even saving for a rainy day.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Well it seems we generally agree on the effects of a new charge if not the reasoning :). I guess what I was trying to say was that there is no more money so $15.00 spent on parking is 15:00 that is not then spent somewhere else or saved for a pension by those of us who are lazy good for nothing Baby Boomers ;)
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Ad monte summa aut mors

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Guy
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Guy » December 27th, 2018, 3:15 pm

Splintercat wrote:
December 27th, 2018, 10:01 am
That's got to change, but it will take time... and informed voters... and Millennials stepping in to clean up after the locust-like devastation of the Baby Boomers... who aren't quite dead yet, and will now demand that all public monies be spent to bail them out for not having saved for their own retirement... but that's a larger topic... ;-)
Tom :-)
I'll try not to ask you for anything when I retire Tom.
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Webfoot
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Webfoot » December 27th, 2018, 3:23 pm

retired jerry wrote:
December 27th, 2018, 12:30 pm
what will they call the next group after millennials?
Generation Z; perhaps alluding to the end of the world, e.g. The Omega Man? ;)

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retired jerry
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by retired jerry » December 27th, 2018, 3:46 pm

then why aren't millennials generation Y?

maybe they have two names

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Splintercat
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Splintercat » December 27th, 2018, 7:11 pm

"....what will they call the next group after millennials?"
Homeless? Destitute? Lifelong baristas? ;-)
"..I'll try not to ask you for anything when I retire Tom."
:lol:

Tom :)

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Eric Peterson
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Eric Peterson » December 28th, 2018, 1:49 pm

retired jerry wrote:
December 27th, 2018, 12:30 pm
what will they call the next group after millennials?
Gen F for $*^*@&

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Chip Down
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Chip Down » December 28th, 2018, 9:53 pm

Wow, there's so much to comment on here. I have to be selective.

Peabody's P-PEP scheme for the I-84 Multnomah lot almost makes sense. There's an easy opportunity to increase capacity. But as Tom observes on the next page, it might be pointless, because the trail is often packed to full capacity. There are times when you literally cannot walk up that trail, because people stop to rest, people stop to look at the scenery, people stop to change diapers, people stop just on a whim, and when enough people stop, the whole trail system stops, and nobody gets to move. Increasing the number of parking spaces wont help, except that on occasion it might help to simultaneously accommodate the full-day hikers and the flip-floppers. So what do we do? Maybe we could make a loop, so people can take an alternate route down. I don't know that we should make it mandatory (i.e. maybe foolish to enforce one-way traffic). Funding for this is a no brainer; it's a short route that serves many people. I think the main challenge would be the terrain. With steep slopes, water, shoulderless highway, etc, it could be tricky to construct a high-capacity return loop that could safely accommodate the throngs. At a bare minimum, Perdition trail should be restored (I've never seen a convincing argument why that trail can't be opened).

Why do we insist that everybody has to work the same hours/days, and recreate at the same time? We suffer countless hardships because we refuse to break from tradition. I work at a desk every moment of every day, I'm available via phone 24/7 in case of emergency, but curiously, my employer insists I must be in their office M-F, from 7 to 4. This is bizarre. Can we please stop being so stupid?

Strongly agree with Bosterson et al that the Multnomah Lodge parking is a disgraceful CF [he didn't phrase it that strongly, but I will]. It's not only the actual physical layout, the problem is also the attitudes and behavior of the authorities there.

It's worth noting (as some have alluded to) that any scheme with high admin costs is doomed. It tends to snowball. Enforcement cost is high, they need more money, they raise fees, higher fees results in less compliance, they need more enforcement, etc. It reminds me of the newspaper industry: people lose interest in printed newspapers, publishers raise prices, more readers bail, newspaper starts to lose money, they respond by raising prices, etc, circling the drain (except in the case of recreation fees it just keeps spiraling, because collapse isn't possible).

Let's remember it ain't just the gorge! On my drive home from work, I see a circus of freaks who drive like the world exists to serve their desires. Let's create roadways that block their impulses, and enforce the existing laws. Likewise, why can't we enforce enforce enforce in the gorge? If somebody decides the road is where they want to park, tow them at their expense (I know that happens on occasion, but seems like it could be stepped up). If somebody decides they want to stop on the road to look at a waterfall rather than pull over, can we have volunteers standing by who will lob stones through their windshields? [I might be kidding about that.] Anyway, why does ODOT declare that they need to meddle with Group A (hikers) while doing absolutely nothing about Group B (the freak show I see every day on my commute). Is it because hikers are an easier target to extract money from? Is it because the gorge presents a better opportunity for a complicated scheme, and complexity is the real goal?

Guy wrote "I've never gone for a hike in the Gorge and not been able to park [in] a designated Parking spot. True I know better than to show up at 12:00 on a Saturday!" Yeah. The only problem I've ever encountered is when I try to fit two hikes into a day. I like to start as early as possible. Even in winter, I'll start a couple hours before sunrise if I have some trail miles to cover. Hard to sympathize with the after-brunch crowd (sorry Don). But I do sympathize with a hiker who gets off work at 2pm and wants to get in a late hike, but has to compete with the after-brunch crowd.

Hmm, I typed more than I wanted to.

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