Parking Matters: A Few Minutes With Jeff Petry, Eugene Parking Services Manager

You might not realize it, but every time you ker-plinka quarter, or swipe a credit card into a downtown parking meter, you’re helping to support Eugene’s future Innovation District.

This is true. Partially because a parking division is not just about finding a place for people to leave their car, according to City of Eugene Parking services manager Jeff Petry.

It’s about economic development,” he explains. Making sure the right economic development tools are in place for the Eugene Innovation District and the general revitalization of the downtown core.

There’s been a fundamental shift in downtown Eugene, Petry says, and he’s optimistic about the future.

“There’s a general revitalization,” he continues. And Petry would know because managing the parking system gives him a unique perspective on the economic vitality of the city’s core.

Being parking services manager puts Petry on the frontline of how business moves downtown, he says. Part of any city’s parking system is to be welcoming both to downtown visitors, but also to welcome businesses located in the city center or businesses that might be looking to relocate there.

Part of welcoming visitors and businesses to downtown is staying on top of technological advances in parking. Technology is also affecting how people park their cars, and Petry says Eugene’s parking system is ready.

“We’re making sure the system is not just a coin you put in a parking meter,” he says. “We need to make sure parking tech meets and exceeds standards.”

“We’re looking at pay by cell phone,” he goes on. Currently, the meters in downtown accept coin, Google pay, and Apple pay. And soon drivers will be able to pay for parking directly from the dash of their car. “One of the most advanced systems,” Petry adds.

Downtown, “there’s a culture where people are bumping into each other,” Petry describes. “Garages are full,” he points out. And the groundwork has been laid to encourage the Innovation District, he adds — a solid groundwork, supported in part by funding from the City of Eugene’s parking fund.

The city’s parking fund supports downtown in a variety of other ways. “My job is to maintain the assets tied to parking,” Petry says, explaining part of his job is to manage the parking reinvestment program.

Parking fees fund up to 50% of the downtown ambassador program, Petry says, as well as helping to fund the downtown mural program, the “Light Up Downtown” project, Tech Tours, Hackathon For A Cause, and more.

“We need to fix elevators,” he says, and to update the concrete structures of downtown parking garages. “We invest in the downtown,” Petry says.

“You can build a great space,” Petry says, “you need to bring people to that space.” And downtown parking is helping more people come downtown than ever before.

This is true. Partially because a parking division is not just about finding a place for people to leave their car, according to City of Eugene Parking services manager Jeff Petry.