City Council approves pay-by-phone on downtown streets

A pay-by-phone parking plan approved by the City Council today will give Rogue Community College students another parking option.

The Medford Parking Commission received permission from the council to create premium parking on Central Avenue, between Eighth and 10th streets, and on Ninth Street, between Central Avenue and Front Street.

"I'd love to do that," said Laneasha Johnson, a 17-year-old RCC student, who parked on Central while she took a class. "I'd rather do that than get a ticket."

Both Central and Ninth currently have one-hour parking. Under the new plan, a student or any motorist with a smart phone can add another hour through an application known as PayByPhone. The motorist's account would be charged $1 for the extra hour, but the first hour would remain free.

Mark Millner, chairman of the Parking Commission, said he wants to test the idea on the two streets before expanding it to other streets in the downtown.

The city already allows charging more time in parking lots through cell phones using the PayByPhone application, so it would be relatively easy to add streets. Meter readers can verify whether a payment has been received by checking the license plate number.

Millner said the Parking Commission contacted local merchants and property owners to gauge their reaction.

"We got a unanimous thumbs up on all that from all the other businesses," he said.

With the council approval, Millner said it's possible the program could get up and running within a month.

The idea was developed out of concerns raised by RCC over parking. The school recently announced it expected 460 students from a new health care program.

Margaret Bradford, marketing director for Rogue Community College, said the school appreciates efforts to ease the parking situation, but remained worried about the financial impact on students.

"I think that anything that makes it more convenient for our students is a plus," she said.

— Damian Mann

Read more the Friday's paper.

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