Ashland to charge $5 for daily parking permits

The city of Ashland plans to begin charging $5 for parking permits that had been free in an effort to cut down on the number of business people who may be using the permits inappropriately.

Business people can currently pick up orange parking placards that allow them to park all day in coveted downtown parking spaces, which typically have two- to four-hour time limits.

The permits are primarily meant for people who need their tools and equipment near a particular site because they are doing maintenance, construction and repair work, said Ashland Administrative Services and Finance Director Lee Tuneberg.

But some people appear to be misusing the permits. For example, city workers have seen permits on sedan-style cars that don't appear to be used for maintenance and repair jobs, Tuneberg said.

The permits will cost $5 as of Aug. 1, which should give people time to adjust to the change, he said.

Ashland City Council approved the new fee earlier this month.

"There's been a proliferation of daily permit placards being used," Tuneberg said. "People are getting free parking in a preferred spot all day long. This is something we think we should do to rein them in and cover the costs of issuing the permit."

Business people pick up the permits at Ashland City Hall.

Tuneberg said Ashland has timed parking spots downtown so there will be a turnover of vehicles, which gives people visiting downtown a chance to find parking.

Prior to 2008, business owners and their employees were banned from parking downtown while working and faced tickets if they did so.

Members of the business community complained that the rule couldn't be enforced fairly. They said some people got tickets when they were dining and shopping downtown, not working.

Ashland City Council changed city rules to allow business owners and employees to park downtown in 2008. Councilors left it up to business owners to educate their employees about the economic importance of not taking up prized downtown parking spaces.

Ashland Chamber of Commerce President Pam Hammond, co-owner of Paddington Station, was on a task force in 2008 that looked at downtown parking rules and other business issues. She said she and her employees are too busy at work to park downtown in the two- to four-hour spots because they don't have time to move their vehicles around during the day.

Hammond said most of her staff park outside the downtown area. She said the majority of downtown workers, especially full-time employees, also avoid the downtown spots because of the time limits.

Hammond said she didn't know of anybody using the free daily permits except construction workers.

Kirk McAllister, owner of Horsefeathers of Ashland, said traveling salespeople with wholesale goods sometimes use the daily permits so they can show their wares to Ashland businesses.

He said the $5 daily parking fee would not be too difficult for them, but he objects to any push by the city to make the traveling salespeople get Ashland business licenses to sell in town.

Under city rules, a person who wants a daily parking permit to conduct business in Ashland must either have a regular $120-and-up business license or a temporary $25 business license.

Ashland law defines business activity as anything done with an intent to make a profit.

McAllister said the wholesale salespeople who visit his shop have collected unique items from around the world. They then travel up and down the West Coast selling their items.

He said requiring those people to get a business license just to qualify for a daily parking permit would be very costly to them. They might stop visiting Ashland, which would reduce the variety of products local businesses have to offer.

McAllister said it wouldn't make sense for cities everywhere to force traveling salespeople to buy business licenses in each city.

"If each city did this, it would be draconian," McAllister said.

He said the daily parking permit program has been abused by some people, but the city shouldn't harm other people who need access to a site.

Tuneberg said it would be up to the city's legal department to decide whether traveling salespeople who want daily parking permits must also get Ashland business licenses.

The city of Ashland has dealt with controversies over who must get a business license in the past.

In 2011, City Council backed away from requiring individual vendors to buy Ashland business licenses when they sell at places like the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market and the Ashland Artisan Emporium.

The umbrella organization or business must still have an Ashland business license.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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