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Where do the funds go?

When you pay to park in Washington Park, 100% of the funds go back into the park. The revenue pays for improvements that make the visitor experience better, from wayfinding signs to road repair to the free park shuttle.

Pay to Park History


View of parking meter

Washington Park has been proudly managed by Portland Parks & Recreation since the first property was purchased for park purposes in 1871. Over the past 150 years, the park has grown to over 400 acres of natural and developed area, with several world-class cultural institutions calling the park home. With this success has come access challenges and growing pains. 

In 1912, the first comprehensive report on Washington Park was completed by the Olmstead Brothers, a nationally known landscape architecture firm. The Olmstead Brothers noted that on sunny weekends and holidays, the streets in the park were highly congested and the park was being taxed to its utmost. The undesirable mixing of pedestrians and vehicles was of major concern.

In 1981, the first Master Plan for Washington Park was developed. The plan was an important achievement in the history of the park as it was the first comprehensive study on the ongoing congestion, parking, and access problems that were plaguing park managers, neighbors, and park visitors.

In response to the continued growth and development of Washington Park, the cultural institutions of the park came together in 2012 to come up with a solution. They developed a Transportation & Parking Management Agreement. The agreement called for a variety of improvements and ongoing management programs, to be funded through a new pay-to-park system.

Portland Parks & Recreation is the lead agency in the Agreement, collecting the revenue and dispersing it annually as outlined in the 2012 Transportation & Parking Management Agreement.  100% of the revenues stays in Washington Park for improvements that make getting into and around the park better.

Dollars at Work


Portland Parks & Recreation collects meter revenue in Washington Park and distributes it annually according to the 2012 Parking & Transportation Management Agreement.



Parking Management, Repair, and Maintenance- $475,000/year

Parking fees maintain the parking and transportation system. This covers the cost of seasonal and full-time Park Rangers dedicated to Washington Park, maintenance staff dedicated to maintaining and improving parking, trail and road systems, and management of the pay-to-park system (such as program costs for meters, enforcement, and day-to-day operations).


Transportation Management Association (Explore Washington Park) - $375,000/year

Parking dollars also fund Explore Washington Park, the non-profit management organization dedicated to improving the access and visitor experience for Washington Park. EWP provides management of shuttles, seasonal customer service staff, long-range transportation program planning, annual surveys to track our progress, grant management, park maps, as well as management of the all-volunteer Explore Washington Park Board of Directors, made up of the Directors of the cultural institutions of the park.


Free Shuttle Service and Overflow Shuttle - $550,000/year

Parking fees cover the cost of the seasonal free shuttle, which operates generally May-Sept, with weekend service in April and October. The free shuttle runs every 15 minutes and moves visitors in a loop from the Washington Park TriMet MAX Station to all the cultural institutions in the park. The shuttle boasts excellent ridership, with over 120,000 rides last season. This fund also covers the cost of the overflow parking bus, which operates on an as-needed basis to off-site parking lots during the weekends in the summer and some special events.


Washington Park Master Plan - $400,000/one-time

The 2012 agreement called for further planning processes to help develop a long-range plan for the growth and development of the park. Parking fees are helping to pay for a new master plan for Washington Park, which will help develop solutions for the access and transportation issues facing the park. The plan is expected to be complete in fall of 2017.


Washington Park Major Maintenance - $200,000/year

At over 150 years old, the transportation network in Washington Park was suffering from a variety of deferred maintenance issues. Parking fees are helping to pay for the cost of major transportation projects like road repair, paving, striping, signage, and trail work. Since 2014, projects have included:


  • - Repaving the Hoyt/Fairview parking lot.
  • - Repaving the access road at Hoyt Arboretum.
  • - Repaving several portions of SW Kingston Dr, and pothole filling.
  • - Repaving portions of SW Knights Blvd.
  • - Repaving portions of Stearns multi-use trail and replacing gates with bollards.
  • - Adding bus pull out at Archery Range.
  • - Parkwide routine and ongoing potholl repair.


  • - Installing new crosswalk signage and crosswalk markings parkwide.
  • - Replacing and installing new signage throughout the park to meet city standard.
  • - Adding speed humps to SW Washington Way and SW Fisher Lane.
  • - Installing fencing along Parking Lot B to prevent ped/vehicle conflicts.
  • - Installing flashing beacon crosswalk on SW Knights Blvd at Children’s Museum.
    - Removing obsolete parking booths throughout the south end of the park. 

Trail Work

  • - Installing new trail markers along the Wildwood Trail, MAC Trail, and other areas.
  • - Replacing roadside landscape along SW Lewis & Clark to meet standard and reduce runoff.


  • - Replacing all parking space numbers with thermoplast material for longevity.
  • - Installing new directional wayfinding on the south end, near the Zoo.
  • - Purchasing electronic message signs for Highway 26 to display park parking conditions.
  • - Replacing all overflow parking directional signage to meet ODOT standards.

Future Projects:

Future projects include repaving portions of Lot B, in front of the Zoo; paving portions of SW Kingston Drive; installing new wayfinding signage through the park for vehicles and pedestrians; repaving portions of SW Rose Garden Way; repaving portions of MAC Trail and service road below the Rose Garden; repairing stairs in Stearns Canyon; and repairing the stairs and Marquam Trail connections behind Lot A. Other transportation projects are added to the list as they are identified or the need increases.


Code-required capital improvements - $840,000/one-time

Washington Park has a variety of older parking lots and roads which do not meet today’s stormwater management codes. The code-required capital improvement fund is designed to upgrade certain parking lots and roads to meet that standard. So far, we’ve upgraded Lot A to meet standard, with the next project being for Parking Lot B, which includes a stormwater planter facility, similar to a large bio-swale, to treat runoff from nearly 900 parking spaces.


Capital projects reserve and start-up costs

The parking fund also keeps a reserve to finance future projects that will be identified in the Master Plan, or have been previously identified in other planning processes. One of these plans is the South Entry Vision, which calls for consolidating parking on the south end into a parking garage, reconfiguring SW Knights Blvd, creating new drop off areas, and enhancing bike and ped connections. In addition to the reserve, the fund also pays down an internal loan of $750,000 for the startup costs of the program.



Board Members