PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Commissioner Mingus Mapps announced two downtown Portland SmartPark garages will offer free weekend parking through the rest of the year as part of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s downtown livability initiative.

The SmartPark garages on Southwest 4th Avenue and Yamhill St. and Southwest 10th Avenue and Yamhill Street will offer free parking Saturdays and Sundays Nov. 24-Dec. 31.

“Downtown is open for business, and PBOT is doing its part to support the heart of our city. SmartPark garages are a vital service for Portlanders and visitors wanting to dine, shop, or recreate downtown. This promotion is another step to help bring Portlanders back downtown and is an investment in the future use of these garages,” Mapps said.

According to PBOT, SmartPark garages have seen a significant decrease in car prowls because of the garage’s increased security. Since security patrols began in November, PBOT says they’ve seen a 63% drop in car prowls and are confident their presence is making an impact.

PBOT says they have security patrolling the garages 24/7 and are fine-tuning security levels at each garage based on needs and as the security contractor onboards more staff.

A five-person team from PBOT is responsible for cleaning the exteriors of the five SmartPark garages, the agency said. That team is also responsible for graffiti removal from signs and traffic control boxes across the city. Meanwhile, PBOT says SmartPark contractor SP+ regularly cleans the inside of the garages.

“The garages are safer and cleaner, and PBOT staff are working hard every day to help make downtown clean, safe and accessible,” said Transportation Director Millicent Williams. “We want Portlanders to come and see for themselves the critical work PBOT is doing as a part of downtown’s recovery.”

The announcement comes after PBOT temporarily closed the SW 3rd and Alder SmartPark in August due to a sharp decline in occupancy. PBOT tells KOIN 6 News there is no timeframe of when the garage will reopen, however, the agency is looking for ways to “activate” the space.

According to PBOT, the average peak occupancy of the garage saw over 90% peak-hour occupancy in 2019. However, June 2023 saw a major decline in occupancy, dropping to 29% average occupancy.

“By pooling our resources and focusing on these four parking garages instead of five — with one being mostly empty — we can make better use of our resources; provide four cleaner, more secure, safer parking garages that everyone will enjoy using in coming back to downtown,” Dylan Rivera of PBOT previously told KOIN 6 News.

He added, “this is all about consolidating our parking operations, improving our litter pick-up, our sweeping of the sidewalks, our security that we’re providing all of our garages to make sure everyone feels comfortable and safe as they’re returning to downtown.”