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Bike parking dispute boils over at Pearl District condo

Posted by on January 10th, 2013 at 1:58 pm

(From The Encore’s website)

When the Encore condominiums in the Pearl District opened in 2008, bike-friendliness was a main selling point. “Ride. Relax. Repeat” was the marketing slogan. The building also caught my eye and ended up on the Front Page for offering a free bicycle to new owners. The building’s developer, Hoyt Street Properties, purchased a long-term advertising campaign here on BikePortland.

But that was then.

Now, several Encore residents claim that the board of the Encore Condominium Owners Association (they took ownership of the building from Hoyt last summer) is vehemently anti-bike and has established new bike parking rules and policies that one long-time owner calls “draconian.”

At issue is how to deal with the growing number of bicycles at the 177 unit building. Residents I’ve spoken with say there aren’t nearly enough spaces (even though only about 150 units are currently sold). However, instead of increasing the number of racks, the board has come up with new rules and a convoluted, fee-based lottery and permit system that comes nowhere near meeting demand.

Peggy Kolb and her husband were among the first people to buy at The Encore. “We are avid bike riders,” she told me on the phone yesterday. “We bought here because it was bike friendly.” Kolb and her husband own four bicycles and they were able to park them — for free — in racks and storage areas when they moved in. Kolb feels the board — who adopted a host of new bicycle rules in November that will allow only one bike per unit and will begin charging for bike parking — is acting in their own interests and without taking residents’ bike parking concerns seriously.

Currently there are about 70 bike spaces available for residents with another 20 promised to be coming soon. That would put the total at just 90 designated bike parking spaces in a building with well over 300 residents (estimated). It’s important to note that Owner’s Association rules stipulate that residents cannot use the racks in front of the building and bikes are not allowed on balconies or patios.

On November 29th, the Board of the Encore Condominium Owners’ Association adopted nine pages of “bicycle rules” (PDF) — most of them dealing with parking. The new rules dictate everything from where bicycles can be stored to how the forthcoming bike parking lottery and permit program will work.

At the Encore, the board has decided that each unit is limited to one bike parking space (the City of Portland Planning Code was recently updated to require 1.5 bike parking spaces per unit in multi-dwelling buildings). Since there are only 90 spaces, once those fill up a lottery will be held. If not chosen in the lottery, residents will be placed on one of two waiting lists: one for people without any assigned bike spot and the other for people who already have one assigned spot.

To enter the bike parking lottery, it will cost $100. If chosen, an annual bike parking permit will cost an additional $20. According to the board, the $100 lottery registration fee is to, “defer its costs, deter owners who make little use of their bicycles and to fund future bicycle storage solutions.” The ongoing $20 permit fee is, “to defer rack maintenance costs.”

Before this new permitting and lottery system goes into effect, all the bikes currently parked in existing systems must be taken down so the spaces can be re-assigned.

In a message sent to residents by the board on December 3rd of last year (PDF), they acknowledged bike parking demand is likely at about 210 spaces.

According to residents I’ve heard from, the board has no plans to significantly expand the number of official bike parking spaces. There’s plenty of room in the existing parking garage, but residents claim the board doesn’t want more bikes in the garage. They are concerned about bikes damaging parked cars, about the aesthetics of so many bikes, and about how the presence of bikes might attract thieves.

“People have gone to the board and requested that they install their own racks in the [auto] parking spaces they already own,” says Peggy Kolb, “But the board says no.” Kolb said her sub-compact car leaves plenty of room to park a few bikes, but she’s been told it’s not allowed. Under Hoyt’s ownership, the rules said only “vehicles” were allowed to park in auto spaces; but owner’s association added the word “motor vehicles.” According to one resident, that was, “The straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“I’m pretty upset,” added Kolb. “Quite a few people in the building are very upset.”

Another resident, Steven Brown, echoed many of Kolb’s concerns. He said when the building was first marketed by Hoyt Properties, prospective buyers were told that bike parking would be free, available, and more racks would be installed as needed. Now, he feels the “overly anti-bicycle” board’s new fees and other rules are, “designed to discourage bicycle parking in the garage.”

The board addressed this issue in their December 3rd message by stating even though there is, “… the possibility of adding more racks in garage common areas, this raises several practical, legal and aesthetic issues that require more study.”

The board tasked resident Curtis Holloway with the job of studying the issue. He told me he presented many solutions to the board about how to increase bike parking capacity without the need for byzantine or onerous rules. “The board didn’t like what I presented, so they ended my study committee and took away my responsibility.”

The next board meeting where they’ll do the lottery and discuss what they refer to as, “the bicycle storage problem” is January 24th. I’ve been unable to reach the board directly for comment, so I plan to attend and report back.

For a Pearl District condo that prides itself on being bike-friendly, these bike parking policies seem over the top. The Encore’s location is prime for low-car and carfree living and accommodating a lot of bicycles seems like a “problem” they should be happy to have.

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Babygorilla
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Babygorilla

Residents bought knowing they would be subject to private rules and regulations and that those rules and regulations can change.

If the bike parking demand is so great, residents can pay for bike parking off site.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Yikes.
Who is on this ‘board’? Maybe someone from that side could weigh in, defend these pretty sketchy policy changes?

“They are concerned about bikes damaging parked cars, about the aesthetics of so many bikes, and about how the presence of bikes might attract thieves.”

With friends like these…

Babygorilla
Guest
Babygorilla

Or use public racks a block or two away.

Paul in the 'couve
Guest
Paul in the 'couve

MONTANA MINI STORAGE TO THE rescue. Just obtain on old truck or car, or better yet a box van or a utility trailer. Park it in your legitimate parking space and provide bike parking within. Out of sight out of mind.
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51vKdSK7coL._SL500_SS500_.jpg

Andrew K
Guest
Andrew K

This is why I will never buy a property with a COA or HOA. If I want to keep my bike on my balcony I will do so.

That being said, the COA is making a big mistake. If only 150 units are sold and they in theory would like to sell the remaining 27 they should be instating rules that make owning a bike and living at the condo easier, not more difficult.

Potential buyers are going to be put off by the confusing rules, whether they currently own a bike or not.

Todd Boulanger
Guest

All [condo board] politics is local.

The long term solution to this “problem” is running for the condo board of any urban building so that bike parking and other issues can be ‘better’ managed. And PBoT’s new bike parking ratios seem too low still given that most bikes can only carry one adult vs. a car. (Unless these new condo rules spur the purchase of tandem bikes or folders.

Though in the short term it would be interesting to see Curtis’ proposal and hear from the current board president.

NW Biker
Guest
NW Biker

One solution: take the bike into the condo. Or do they have elevator police, too?

Doug G.
Guest

The argument could be made that bikes in the garage could deter thieves, not attract them. Since you can fit 10 bikes in one parking space, you’d almost ensure a high volume of people going in and out of the garage. I’d also bet that due to the ease of use, cyclists access their “vehicles” more frequently than drivers, further increasing the presence of flesh-and-blood people in the garage.

These would be literal “eyes on the street” that would make it less likely that a thief could enter a garage and steal a bike or, worse yet, a car.

Janne
Guest
Janne
John Landolfe
Guest

This case illustrates the ongoing problem of relying on the varying whims of privately governed residences and businesses to store and protect personal bikes. My ideal city would have public facilities every few blocks in denser neighborhoods. The market has delivered such long term amenities for cars, of course.

Til my bike parking utopia arrives, in the meantime I can attest that, after 3 years in the world of bike parking, I’ve never personally received a single complaint about a bike damaging a car or aesthetic issues. Creatively rationing parking assignments is a lot more hassle for the administrator than just giving the people what they want. That’s my perspective.

Redhippie
Guest
Redhippie

Yeah, pretty much had a similar experience living in a condo else where in portland. I’ll chalk this up to democracy. Next time I condo, I would go with a place that is bike friendly (think the HUB building on Williams). People vote with their feet.

NW Biker
Guest
NW Biker

Wait a sec… they’re citing concerns about the “aesthetics” of the parking garage? Seriously???

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

I’ve heard of another building in the Pearl (that one of my friends lives in) considering almost equally silly ‘solutions’. They haven’t decided anything that I know of, but when I talked to one of the board members I was not terribly impressed with the focus on controlling supply instead of meeting demand. There was a fair bit of lather over “abandoned” or “infrequently used” bicycles. I was all “How about you put some more racks in the garage, maybe even ones that aren’t crappy? That sounds pretty easy.”

I’m not even sure they’re meeting the old code requirement at the moment — they have four racks, I think, and definitely more than 50 units.

jollydodger
Guest

Can i rent my car ‘parking spot’ – to another tenant? Can i sleep in my car in the parking lot? How bout…can i put my bike on a trainer on the balcony and ‘ride’? Not to store…& what about having a long-tail, or trailer for my kids? No, no, no and again no, i suppose…that’s why i don’t, won’t & wouldn’t if you freakin paid me to, live in “the pearl”…had a great little ‘loft’ room over at ‘the Lawn’ {18th & Davis NW}, before it was gutted and condo’d…(the old ghosty laundry room is now underground tenant parking) %50 more land is used for roads than for housing…this is why people are forced to sleep under overpasses and why rent ‘close-in’ is so damn steep…the world has been co-modified to meet the needs of the driver ‘class’…& yes, if you don’t “need” a car to earn money…& you live close enough to your job that a car is essentially unnecessary, then yes, it’s a class thing. Moms all over the world (including here in the Northwest) get around just fine without autos. Have been and will continue to do so after all the oil has been sucked from all the tar sands. If appearances and fashion didn’t matter upon arrival, the luxury and convenience of driving oneself around for no other reason than to avoid the weather would be inane, and most free-thinking rational beings understand this to be true. Who are we really trying to impress? The neighbor? The driver in the next car over? Your boss’s mother in law? or – … Does it truly aid in your survival, happiness and spiritual well-being? Isn’t it really more trouble and work than it’s worth (%25 on annual earnings on auto ‘ownership’). We all need to get around sometimes…it’s just sad that some find the sense of ownership of their chosen vehicle of transport to be equatable to their sense of higher self esteem which stems from a common mutuality with a culture which encourages everyone to want to be in the car owner class. The media tells us at every turn we are not fully functioning adults or patriotic citizens until we own an automobile. Car culture strikes again.

dwainedibbly
Guest
dwainedibbly

Wow! Mrs Dibbly & I were just about to sign a contract to purchase a unit there. Not now. This Board is hurting property values & should be removed. Perhaps I should call the sales office & let them know….

(OK, so we really weren’t about to buy there, but the effect is the same. As this news spreads, it will hurt the building and its owners.)

Anonymaus
Guest
Anonymaus

This is why condos suck – HOA’s.

Rol
Guest
Rol

Those aesthetically non-pleasing bikes would be located in an ugly-ass parking garage that stinks of exhaust, in a building that overlooks an industrial wasteland.

DJStroky
Guest

These rules are not the worst!! Welcome to high-rise living!

This is just the simple truth of dealing with a HOA where you need rules to make sure everyone can get along despite living literally feet away from each other. However on the other hand, the HOA does have a choice on how bike-friendly they choose to be.

Consider for example my residence – the Portland Plaza – that outright bans bicycles except in the completely full bike parking area. Their rules document (http://bit.ly/11kCxM2) specifies in section 2.1E that “[b]icycles or other cycles are not allowed in the lobbies, elevators, hallways, or other common areas…”.

As a person with 6 bikes I find this rule to be an absolute pain in the ass. I rent out two bike lockers from the City of Portland that are luckily right across the street to store my bikes at an extra cost of ~$63 per month total. And I have to disassemble some of them to make sure they fit. Obviously there are enough other great reasons why I chose to live at this place. I am however glad that I am just renting and not owning.

I ended up challenging my HOA Board to change the rules. I went through my HOA’s rules committee despite some people discriminating against my plight since I was merely a renter. In the end the HOA did nothing to amend their rules to allow any kind of way for anybody to transport a bicycle up to their unit.

Some lessons from my experience:

1. ALWAYS read the rules document of the HOA you are moving into (or at least the section about bicycle storage) BEFORE you even make the decision to move in.
2. If your HOA rules discriminates against bicyclists it means that your HOA leadership probably aren’t as a whole caring about the plight of bicyclists living in their building (current and future residents inclusive).
3. It is your responsibility as the bicycle owner in that community to make sure the plight of the bicycle owner is understood and that HOA leadership actually wants to do something about it. Ultimately, you will probably not be able to do anything about the rules unless you have a lot of people and Board Member votes to change the rules.

As for the residents who say they can’t park their bikes in their auto spots, why not? There is a section in the rules saying “Multiple Bicycles Stored in a Parking Unit Instead of a Vehicle” that specifically allows this.

You bicycle owning residents need to assert yourselves and demand that the Board give you your rights or at least bend the rules a little or vote them out. Rise up!

dan
Guest
dan

Perhaps the Kolbs could find a rusty $200 junker to park in their parking space and use it as a bargaining chip.

John Lascurettes
Guest

There’s plenty of room in the existing parking garage, but residents claim the board doesn’t want more bikes in the garage. They are concerned about bikes damaging parked cars, about the aesthetics of so many bikes …

That is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard.

hroðberacht
Guest
hroðberacht

A Homeowners Association is, interestingly enough, responsible to the homeowners. It isn’t like off-site “management” cracking down or making up new policies. If enough homeowners disagree with these policies, then change them.

Babygorilla
Guest
Babygorilla

For anyone interested who didn’t click the link, here’s the actual language from the board’s notice. Much different in tone than the article suggests especially the “aesthetic” line:

“There is the possibility of adding more racks in garage common areas that are only accessible through adjacent parking spaces but this raises several practical, legal and aesthetic issues that require more study.

Meanwhile, there is a serious problem with the use of current bike storage
racks. These racks, and the spaces that they are in, are owned by the
Association on behalf of all Unit Owners and the Board has decided that they should be allocated to owners in as fair a manner as possible. These racks have previously been occupied on an ad-hoc basis that has resulted in some owners having several bikes on racks, many racks holding bikes that are very rarely used or even abandoned and recent new owners having no opportunity to store their bikes in the garage.”

So, its not like the board doesn’t want parking in the garage for aesthetic reasons. It is that practical, legal AND aesthetic reasons require more study for the board to possible add more racks in the garage common areas that are ONLY ACCESSIBLE through adjacent parking spaces. Nice spin though.

Also, I note that there are three units (at about $400k for a one bedroom) on a local realtor website that each come with “storage” so I assume each unit has some sort of onsite storage. Do all units have storage? If so, perhaps residents who park their bikes for more than one or two days should use their storage and leave the garage parking for daily bike users.

Smedley Basilone
Guest
Smedley Basilone

It’s funny. The DMV considers bicycles as motor vehicles and must follow motor vehicle laws. The Portland Police consider bicycles as motor vehicles and we must follow the motor vehicle laws. This building has parking spots for “motor vehicles”, yet they won’t allow bikes to park there. I can’t say I feel sorry for the homeowners, but you get what you get when you choose to live there.

mark kenseth
Guest
mark kenseth

Home owners should be allowed to install hanging bike racks on the wall in front of the parking space. So sad.

Donna
Guest
Donna

I understand “bike-friendly realtors” exist and work in Portland. I certainly hope they read this and steer prospective buyers away from this building. As for myself, this has strengthened my resolve to never, ever put myself in a situation where I have a COA or HOA dictating how I live my life.

are
Guest

says right on page 4 of the november 29 memo you can install a rack for multiple bikes in what would otherwise be a parking space in the garage, provided you are not also trying to park a car down there. page 1, you can store your bike in your residential unit.

seems to me if you buy into a building with 177 units and there is rack space for only 90 bikes, you kinda see this going in. apparently the problem has arisen because some people are tying up the limited rack space with bikes they never use. you know who you are.

and as others have mentioned, you don’t like the governance, run for the board. obviously an easy gig, as this story attests.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Wow. I can’t believe they charge $100 just to enter a lottery to store your bike. With NO guarantee of getting a place. Unbelievable.

Lazy Spinner
Guest
Lazy Spinner

OK, I’ll just go there based on personal experience.

HOAs are generally dominated by older, conservative residents that have a need to lord power over other people. I’m guessing that none of the HOA board owns a bike, likely drives a high dollar luxury car/SUV, and is likely California retiree money like the majority of The Pearl. A bunch of aging Reaganites from Orange County that moved up here to feel young and hip and to distance themselves from the “browning” of their former SoCal “paradise”. Of course, they brought their patriarchal and snooty Newport Beach/Corona Del Mar values with them and, lacking any real hobbies and out of boredom, have decided they know what’s best for us dumb dope smoking idealist backwoods hippies that still have to work while they spend all day puttering around the house watching FoxNews or listening to wingnut radio.

Yes, I’ve spent time on two HOA boards where containing costs and funding reserves took a back seat to block party planning, garage sale regulations, forbidding children from doing chalk art on sidewalks, banning skateboards, and changing landscape contractors yearly because this year’s “Mexicans” are supposedly leering at the white haired dowagers with sexual intent or casing the joint for later criminal activity. Most HOA board members make the worst Congress members look like open minded scholars and civil rights champions.

Terry D
Guest
Terry D

I wonder if since this building is in the newly developing areas of the Pearl if it is getting any property tax incentives or breaks from the city…..hm…..

It BETTER be completely privately financed and be paying FULL market value property taxes if they are doing stuff like this.

Babygorilla
Guest
Babygorilla

Seems like the perfect carfree solution for residents of this building as are pointed out. Install bike parking in your car parking space which is allowed and either get rid of your car or pay to park it somewhere else. Seems like that’s the general consensus on the Amanda Fritz thread. Why is this any different?

Seems like its complaining by people who want to profess to be green, but don’t want the inconvenience of living without a motor vehicle.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Lazy Spinner has it exactly right. I used to live in a condo in SW Portland, and I’ve seen a lot of this kind of petty control-freak behavior. Especially the “not wanting our car parking spaces to look trashy” thing. One person wanted to park a Vespa-type scooter in front of their car and was shut down.

Fortunately our HOA wasn’t completely out of control, as it was an older building and people were fairly laid-back as condos go. But there were definitely a few power hungry folks that the rest of us had to periodically rein in.

And bike parking was indeed a perpetually contentious issue there. What made it tolerable was that each unit had a large deck or patio, each equipped with a locking 3×8′ storage closet in which 3 bikes could easily be stored, safely out of view so as not to upset the neighbs. Fortunately and conveniently we only owned 3 bikes at the time, though now with a kid’s bike and a cargo bike and my wife’s second bike, we’d have serious problems living a bike-friendly lifestyle there today. I am definitely glad I now live in my own home where no one can tell me what to put on my porch or (no joke) what color my drapes have to be.

I know if I were entering the condo (or apartment rental) market today, I’d check out the bike parking situation carefully and make sure I had enough room in the unit to store bikes if the situation in the common areas wasn’t good.

But saying that doesn’t mean I don’t have the deepest sympathies for the people affected here. They are real people, most of them probably not wealthy, trying to live a low-car lifestyle and getting screwed by self-centered moronity. Like a large share of homeowners, many of these people probably haven’t seen enough property appreciation to sell without taking a huge loss and CAN’T just move. What this board is doing is absolutely ridiculous, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of its members are thrilled to be vindictively sticking it to despised cyclists.

Hart Noecker
Guest

They’re concerned about “…the aesthetics of so many bikes” ?? Yeah, me too. I’m concerned there aren’t enough of them in view.

Mabsf
Guest
Mabsf

Why don’t they elect a more bike-friendly board?!

Joe
Guest
Joe

bike friendly hmmmm?

Babygorilla
Guest
Babygorilla

The board seems totally bike friendly. Residents can keep bikes in their unit, in their private on site storage, in the building supplied bike parking area if they get in the lottery or residents can get a bike rack installed in their assigned auto parking space and store as many bikes as they can fit in that space.

I fail to see any problem other than complaining residents who want to profess to be green and “bike friendly” without the inconvenience of not owning and storing an automobile on site and inflammatory language (draconian, vehemently anti-bike) in this article.

Champs
Guest
Champs

Although in their defense, it irritates the crap out of me when people use bike spaces to simply abandon the property. There are probably more bikes than people in Utrecht, so where are you supposed to lock up?

Nate
Guest
Nate

Something about pearls and swine comes to mind…

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

Maybe we should take a bunch of ratty bikes
And lock them up all around the Encore.

Babygorilla
Guest
Babygorilla

davemess
“People have gone to the board and requested that they install their own racks in the [auto] parking spaces they already own,” says Peggy Kolb, “But the board says no.” Kolb said her sub-compact car leaves plenty of room to park a few bikes, but she’s been told it’s not allowed. Under Hoyt’s ownership, the rules said only “vehicles” were allowed to park in auto spaces; but owner’s association added the word “motor vehicles.” According to one resident, that was, “The straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Did you entirely miss this part?!!?!
Recommended 0

Not at all. The PDF document from the Board from November clearly says that residents with parking spaces can request management install racks (at the resident’s expense) in those parking spaces as long as no motor vehicles utilize that space. That’s different than residents installing their own racks in their spaces. It is also eminently reasonable and accommodating.

just joe
Guest
just joe

If there is an ounce of activism in the tenants, those 27 unsold units provide as much leverage and needed to correct this. If there is no activism tendencies among the condo owners, you deserve what you get.

Atbman
Guest

1. Fit bike rack to car
2. Place bike(s) on rack
3. Park car

are
Guest

under ORS 100.420, i think the board can exclude you from their meeting on january 24, jonathan. the documents you have obtained seem to show the board (which is, after all, elected by condo unit owners) struggling in good faith with a legitimate problem, created in part by people tying up the limited existing rack space with bikes they do not use.

Babygorilla
Guest
Babygorilla

Concerned Encore Resident
“show the board (which is, after all, elected by condo unit owners) struggling in good faith with a legitimate problem, created in part by people tying up the limited existing rack space with bikes they do not use.”
If you read some of the internal emails from this board to residents in the Encore who have voiced their concerns, I think you’d change your tune pretty fast. The board has been actively hostile and verbally belittling to residents. I’d be happy to pull a wikileaks and post some choice emails from board members.
Recommended 0

Lots of questions for a resident. Plus, those emails would be fun to read.

Have any residents concerned about bike parking submitted the Application to Store Bicycles in a Parking Unit Instead of a Vehicle form? If not, why not?

Have those applications been rejected? If so, what was the basis for the rejection?

Do all residents have a storage space and can bikes fit in those spaces (and if so, are they easily accessible for daily use)?

Do all units have a parking space?

Approximately how many residents are daily or multiple time per week bike users? Weekly? Have the board or residents done any sort of survey?

How many residents who use a bike daily or frequently have motor vehicles parked on site?

Seems like bikes are allowed to be stored in units. Are there any restrictions on elevator use that make this inconvenient (eg, need freight elevator to go down to the basement, then up stairs)?

EngagedEncoreResident
Guest
EngagedEncoreResident

There are lots of Encore residents who are trying to influence the Board to development of sound rational (pro-bike) policies in a reasonable manner. As a recipent of one of the particularly nasty emails, I have chosen not to make it public as it only serves to inflame and incite, verses adding to constructive dialogue. In the end we will develop a rational bike policy which hopefully will be used as a model for other condominiums. If not, we will initiate the necessary measures to remove the current Board members. FYI- Hoyt Properties is in the process of developing plans for another large condominium in the Pearl. Hopefully they will install sufficient bike parking in their future buildings to avoid similar angst amongst bike owners. If you know of any one within Hoyt Properties, tell them bike parking is an important issue

Todd Boulanger
Guest

I would like to visit the Encore Condos to see their bike parking arrangements.

Any Encore resident’s willing to give me a tour? Call me three sixty – eight fifty two – ninety one sixty nine on most afternoons.

Clayton
Guest
Clayton

Still no progress as of 8/13/2015. “It was moved by Treasurer Baker and seconded by Chair Robertson to not revisit the Bike Policy. The motion passed unanimously. Management will follow up with the unit owner.” Bike haters win.