Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 16th, 2009 at 11:34 am
“I’d like to think through a little further of what the impact would be.”
— John Carroll, real estate developer with Carroll Investments
On Wednesday, I published an article that incorrectly stated that the Portland Planning Commission had voted to approve a zoning code change that would make a major increase to the minimum number of bike parking spaces required in multi-family dwellings (condominiums and apartments).
In fact, the Commission did not pass the bike parking code change (which is a part of a larger package of code changes) and instead has decided to take up the issue again on October 27th.
The City of Portland is proposing an increase to the minimum requirement of bike spaces from the current 1 space per 4 units to 1.5 spaces for each unit. Several people, including Michelle Poyourow of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and Portland developer John Carroll, testified in support of the increase at Wednesday’s hearing.
The code change had smooth sailing at the hearing and word spread throughout PBOT (and to me) that the Planning Commission had passed it (remember, from there it would still need to be passed by City Council).
However, late in the hearing and after his initial testimony, Carroll listened to Bureau of Transportation bike coordinator Roger Geller explain their methodology for coming up with the 1.5 per unit number. After hearing that, Carroll stepped back up to the mic and expressed concerns. I reached Carroll this morning to ask him why he wants to take a few more weeks to think about the code change.
It turns out that Carroll is concerned about his reputation in the development community if he’s the one pushing for such a substantial increase in bike parking space requirements. “I’m in support of increasing bike parking, but I was confused by the formula he [Geller] used. The biggest concern is that it comes up and the development community says ‘that’s a crazy number’.”
So how did PBOT come up with the 1.5 per unit proposal? Bike parking program manager Sarah Figliozzi explained that PBOT surveys show 70% of Portlanders own at least one bicycle. She then analyzed U.S. Census numbers and found that the average amount of residents in a multi-family dwelling is 1.64. Multiply 1.64 by the number of people who own a bicycle (.7), and you get 1.15.
[Figliozzi also pointed out that PBOT proposed 1 space per unit way back in 1996, a decision based on work of a task force that met for nine months (that proposal was nixed by developers in favor of 1 space for every 4 units).]
To get from 1.15 to 1.5, Figliozzi says considering the lifespan of buildings in Portland and that, given the City’s Climate Change goals and commitment to promote bike use (Portland Bike Plan calls for 25% of all trips by 2030), an increase to 1.5 is warranted.
To put the number in perspective, Figliozzi said it’s only 4 bike storage spaces for every 3 people who own a bicycle.
Carroll is very open to the new requirement, but he just wants to make sure the increase would be feasible for developers. “I’d like to think through a little further of what the impact would be.” He plans to walk through several of his buildings with the BTA’s Poyourow in the next few weeks to find out how much of an imposition it would be for developers to reach the proposed 1.5 spaces per unit.
Carroll also mentioned that perhaps the new requirements should not apply in all locations. “If you had a development on Skyline [a road in the hills high above downtown Portland], would it really make sense to have that much bike parking when you’d probably only have about three people who would ride up there?”
Just what type of impact would the proposed code change have on a building? Take Carroll’s The Eliot as an example. It’s got 228 units. Multiply that by 1.5 and you get 334. Even for a developer like Carroll, who understands the need to accomodate bicycles, 334 bike parking spaces is a lot.
Carroll plans on testifying again on October 27th after he’s had more time to think about the proposal. “Rather than have it be a no-brainer conversation, I’d like to have some data in front of me. This is a really important conversation.”
Planning Commission will take up this issue at their meeting on October 27th. Stay tuned.