The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Are parking permits a solution to neighborhood parking wars?

Posted by on April 21st, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Auto parking on Southeast Division Street.
(Photo by M.Andersen)

As the city’s transportation director says Portland should stop giving away so much of its on-street parking space for free, a local parking expert is floating one way to do it.

From the embattled 20s Bikeway to Foster’s broken bike lanes to the chronic shortage of rental housing in low-car-friendly parts of town, residents’ annoyance over the lack of on-street auto parking in central Portland is making it harder for the city to become bike-friendlier. At the Oregon Active Transportation Summit Monday, parking consultant Rick Williams said a paid parking permit program could be the solution — but there are a couple catches.

First, he said, the city should rewrite its rules to let neighborhoods charge more for local parking permits than the systems cost to enforce. Ideally, he said, the city should raise neighborhood parking permit prices from their current level ($60 a year, in the few places where permits are used) to whatever the market will bear.

Second, to make the first option palatable, the city would have to promise that neighborhoods would get to keep the money and put it into better transit, walking, biking, paving — whatever it wants — in its own area.

That’d be a big switch from the way Portland currently runs its paid parking policy. Today, permit programs are only allowed to charge enough to cover enforcement and administration. Williams said this makes the price of parking artificially low; building and maintaining a parking space in central Portland would cost hundreds of dollars per year.

Even in areas where the city makes a profit from parking meters, such as downtown Portland, the city doesn’t directly reinvest the money in the area; it redistributes it. Parking revenue accounts for almost a third of the city’s general transportation budget, which the city then spends on projects like road repaving, bridge projects and so on.

Blumenauer unveils Gas Price Relief Act-7.jpg

Parking consultant Rick Williams.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The problem with this, Williams said, is that it undermines local support for parking districts.

“The public sector is going to have to agree that they’re not the ones who are making money on parking,” Williams said. “The city needs to make sure [neighborhoods] can keep the money.”

Williams’ concept didn’t come out of the blue. It’s the formula laid out by UCLA auto parking scholar Donald Shoup in his influential 2005 book The High Cost of Free Parking. But Williams said that though it’s been used in commercial districts, it’s never yet been put in place for a residential district in the United States.

Still, Williams said it’s the logical answer to neighborhood complaints about crowded curbsides. That’s the thinking behind the City of Portland’s parking permit system, he said: it’s designed to be something a neighborhood asks for, not something a city imposes against residents’ will.

“The philosophy is that if things are bad enough, they’ll come to you,” he said.

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  • spare_wheel April 21, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    “But Williams said that though it’s been used in commercial districts, it’s never yet been put in place for a residential district in the United States.”

    seattle requires residents to purchase parking permits on a yearly basis in some residential areas. they are currently $65 per year for each vehicle on capitol hill. i would love to see a similar program in portland.

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    • 9watts April 21, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      residential parking permit program ≠ parking benefit district

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      • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
        Michael Andersen (News Editor) April 22, 2014 at 9:27 am

        Yes, exactly – the key difference being that a PBD collects more than the cost of enforcement and reinvests the proceeds in the area.

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  • JV April 21, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    There are plenty of US cities with paid residential streetside parking. Most are probably not charging enough to cover the “real” cost. It would be most fair to have a sliding scale, with an increasing cost per vehicle per household. Couple this with a visitor pass system and metered parking.

    Many of the complaints from “concerned community activists” about parking come from people who own single family homes, many of which have driveways. They will always have free parking onsite, at least for one car. Even in SE off Division, the parking is not that bad – at most you have to walk a couple blocks. It is the perceived entitlement of parking directly in front of your house that is the problem. The very amenities (restaurants and shops) that are increasing property values and neighborhood desirability are the same forces that are bringing people in (many who drive) on the weekends. People just have to get used to the idea that they are living in a city, not the suburbs.

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    • Bjorn April 22, 2014 at 8:12 am

      why is it more fair to charge significantly more to a household of 5 adults living together in a 5 bedroom house than to 5 individuals each living in a separate 1 bedroom apartment?

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      • BasementDweller April 22, 2014 at 9:02 am

        Increased demand within the same size area. The property itself is what creates a perimeter/boundary line for which a road is placed. The more vehicles in the same space displaces parking spaces all around them. You’re trying to insinuate that because they live in a higher density situation they should get a pass? Higher density living does create a relative benefit by needing less square footage per person, but that benefit has been negated to a large extent if everyone has their own car.

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        • BasementDweller April 22, 2014 at 9:04 am

          Nix that. I first read your statement as comparing home to home, not home to apartment dwelling. No time to rethink situation. Good food for thought though, thanks.

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          • Bjorn April 22, 2014 at 11:02 am

            yeah it just doesn’t seem to me like people who choose to live in a “microapartment” type situation either in a house or in one of the new microapartments where they share a kitchen should have to pay more for a permit than the same number of folks living in individual 1 bedroom apartments.

            On another note the way that Cambridge does this is to charge based on the kelly blue book value of the car, so the more expensive your car the more you pay each year. However it is changed it won’t be hard to raise more revenue, the current system is clearly leaving a lot of money on the table.

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      • davemess April 22, 2014 at 11:38 am

        It depends how they define “household”. Some also define it as a type of taxpaying unit, like an individual or a married couple filling jointly.

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  • 9watts April 21, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Now we’re talking!

    Smart ideas like this are lying around everywhere. Let’s stop fooling around with dumb ones, and work on (spend political capital on) the clever ones, the ones that simultaneously raise funds, and discourage the activity we can no longer afford.

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  • Lance P. April 21, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    We (the neighborhood) tried getting parking meters for Buckman near the catholic high school on stark but it was shot down because we didn’t have the required (+-75%?) of the neighborhood sign on. But we didn’t have well over 50% of the neighbors sign the petition.

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  • cold worker April 21, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Since we’re talking about parking…the city can also start enforcing parking laws. Even the ones that seem minor like residential street wrong way parking and parking over/on the sidewalk. You let people park like idiots near their house and they start doing it on busy streets and other places they shouldn’t. I see it often working over in NW just out of the Pearl.

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    • gutterbunny April 22, 2014 at 6:50 am

      I was surprised in this last year how fast they ticketed a car that I called to complain about. I live pretty deep in the South Tabor neighborhood, and within 20 minutes of my call a meter enforcement officer had arrived and was dispensing a ticket.

      Granted the person was partially blocking my driveway – not something like parking on the wrong side of the street, but I didn’t think anything would come it.

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      • Scott H April 22, 2014 at 12:16 pm

        If you call the parking enforcement hotline you can almost be certain they will come take a look, this goes for anywhere in the city.

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    • Oregon Mamacita April 22, 2014 at 11:34 am

      Yep. There are big parking messes in my neighborhood. Also- leaving your car on the street overnight should be prohibited in some neighborhoods where everyone has a driveway. I have a driveway and
      I use it for my car. The neighbor have an old pickup truck filled with debris parked on the street24/7- an ugly on street storage unit. That is BS.
      Hey- everyone can agree that you don’t get to leave your non-running Van on the street for a year. Everyone can agree that parking too close to the corner obstructs the view and is dangerous. Good question why those problems have not been addressed.

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      • GlowBoy April 24, 2014 at 10:58 am

        A rule forcing you to move your car every day by prohibiting overnight parking or imposing a maximum stay of 24 hours (which technically is the rule in all of Portland) provides a strong disincentive for people to bike, walk or take transit, and leave the car at home. Really, dumbest rule ever.

        I agree on the need to clear away junk cars that are just taking up space and never being driven, but that goal could be accomplished with a rule that prohibits parking in the space place for, say 14 days. It seems to take at least 2 weeks for a tow truck to show up and haul away an abandoned car anyway. That would still clear out the abandoned vehicles, while allowing people who live in areas with abundant parking to live a lower-car lifestyle and keep their cars for occasional use.

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    • GlowBoy April 22, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      I’m with you about ticketing people who park blocking the sidewalk (a pet peeve of mine), but “wrong way” (by which I think you mean left-side) parking? On a narrow residential street with no center line, who cares?! That’s one of those outdated, meaningless rules like keeping your hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel, or coming to a full stop at a stop sign on a bike when no one else is around.

      It’s much more common practice in some other cities where I’ve lived, reduces the number of U-turns and extra trips around the block … and no, there is no slippery slope to people parking on the left side of arterials.

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      • Bill Stites April 23, 2014 at 6:27 pm

        If you think about it, “wrong way” parking is dangerous. The driver is now at the curbside, pulling out into an oncoming lane of traffic, cannot see the roadway as well nor use mirrors to help check the way. the road may very well have a speedy legally-riding cyclist they didn’t see.
        It’s a good rule.

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        • GlowBoy April 24, 2014 at 10:49 am

          I have thought about it, and that’s why it is a bad idea on arterials. It’s not an issue on quiet residential streets.

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        • Spiffy April 24, 2014 at 11:55 am

          and this is why I report people who park on the wrong side of the street…

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    • Art Fuldodger April 23, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      503.823.5195. Call ’em in. This is why cell phones were invented.

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  • Doug Klotz April 21, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Grant Morehead of PBOT was at SEUL land use meeting tonight. In the upcoming parking permit study he’s leading, he talked about developing different types of “tools” that neighborhoods could choose from to implement in their neighborhood. I want to know if the business owners will have a voice in this, and if residents of apartment buildings along the arterial street will have a voice.

    Some voices there tonight wanted a system that forbade business customers from parking in the neighborhood behind the retail street. I think many others want to prohibit apartment dwellers from parking on the street anywhere.

    If such regulations are allowed, it will drive developers to build in more parking, reducing the density that can be gotten along transit streets and in close-in neighborhoods, raising housing prices (supply and demand), and delaying once more the progress toward a more pedestrian-friendly city, for more Portland residents. I hope there’s the will in the City to look at the issue rationally, including balancing parking with the need for cycle tracks, e.g., disabusing people of the notion that they own the space in front of their house, and other critical issues.

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    • JV April 23, 2014 at 10:09 am

      Your last point

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  • kiel johnson
    kiel johnson April 21, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    I wonder whether neighborhoods should be in the business of selling parking spaces. I can imagine the Pearl being able to purchase a giant parking garage to bring in more money while a less wealthy one can’t. Might this increase income disparity in the city?

    Or neighborhoods not wanting to give up their paid parking places to make room for cycle tracks or other amenities. However, the current situation doesn’t seem to be working so maybe neighborhoods selling parking is the worst possible solution except for all the alternatives.

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    • Chris I April 22, 2014 at 6:51 am

      You can either charge for street parking, or you can have an environment where developers will build high end condos with private parking. In the first scenario, the city collects the additional revenue, and can use it for projects that improve life for everyone. In the latter, the developer keeps the revenue.

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    • John Landolfe April 22, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Income disparity was the first thing I thought of too. I wouldn’t reject the this idea wholesale but there was a time when I worked a lower-wage social service job that required I have access to a vehicle. If both my landlord and the street charged market prices, I would be effectively pushed out my job by my wealthier neighbors. The proposal has potential but would need a transparent appeal process for low-income residents–otherwise it would be (accurately IMO) perceived as a gentrifying move against mixed-income neighborhoods.

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      • TonyJ April 22, 2014 at 9:41 am

        When we bundle parking costs with housing (by either requiring parking to be built onsite or by, through property level taxes, fund the building and maintenance of parking) we do a disservice to many poorer people. First, we make housing more expensive nearby where most people work. Secondly, if you are already paying for part of your automobile costs (storage) whether you have a car or not, it makes a bit more sense economically to buy a car (or a second car) that you might not need.

        If we are going to meet our supposed goals for reducing emissions and increasing non-auto mode share in the city, then we need to bring the actual costs of our activities into alignment. A person deciding whether to own a car should have to factor in the cost of parking (and pollution).

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  • John Lascurettes April 21, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    Sounds like the right direction. Honest concern though: will this lead to more car-headism of “I paid for this street!” and more accusations of people who cycle don’t pay their way?

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    • 9watts April 22, 2014 at 7:52 am

      “more accusations of people who cycle don’t pay their way?”

      But some day… some day… we’re going to invite Todd Litman to write a guest editorial on this subject, and we can lay this one to rest once and for all.

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  • Troy Haliwell April 22, 2014 at 3:30 am

    I am not sure this is really a good idea.

    I can see large employers buying up all the on street permits and so folks that need the cargo capacity of a car would not be able to visit the small shop next door.

    Plus there is the argument that they have paid for that space already through road taxes, gas taxes, city taxes, and car taxes.

    If it starts there, next they will be charging for access to bike racks, then finally an additional fare for TriMet riders to use the stops/shelters.

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    • John Lascurettes April 22, 2014 at 9:36 am

      Slippery slope much?

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    • TonyJ April 22, 2014 at 9:43 am

      Let’s not pretend that we don’t have technology and structures available to prevent employers from buying up all the permits. There is not an argument I’ve heard against permits etc that can’t be easily imagined away with a little creative thinking.

      An, furthermore, if my neighbors knew that we’d make money for a curb extension by selling permits to the employers across the street, I think many of them would use their driveways and garages a little more to make room for the “outsiders” who are paying a premium.

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    • GlowBoy April 22, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      “I can see large employers buying up all the on street permits” Lots of cities have neighborhoods with residential parking permit programs – including, if I’m not mistaken, some parts of Portland – and the permits are issued directly to residents. There is no way for a large employer to “buy up” all of them.

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  • gutterbunny April 22, 2014 at 7:07 am

    I like the idea and I think traffic infraction rates should also be raised dramatically with the funds generated going to specific purposes as well.

    But I’m left asking, what exactly constitutes the “neighborhood” for the payouts?

    Would it be the Neighborhood Associations? And if so are they equipped to handle such an influx of funds and the layers of new bureaucracy that would surely result as a consequence of this type of plan? We’re now talking of taking some of the neighbor associations funding from lemon-aid stand economics to more of a bottler/distributor level.

    I do understand that the neighborhood thing makes it sound more appealing when trying to get signatures and votes. But it would be simpler just to earmark the funds for specific purposes within the current city budget.

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    • bjcefola April 22, 2014 at 8:15 am

      I’d say flat out NA’s aren’t the vehicle for controlling and spending the money. But they could be the vehicle for providing limited direction to the city- choosing between say street paving, sidewalks, bike lanes or crossing improvements.

      If it’s legally possible I’d suggest expanding the funding options beyond transportation to include parks and schools. I think that would considerably broaden the appeal of parking districts.

      As a final tweak, a portion of parking revenue ought to go to a citywide pool for redistribution along equity lines. Something analogous to the 30% holdback that school foundations operate with. That would reduce the disparity in public amenities across neighborhoods.

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      • gutterbunny April 22, 2014 at 10:13 am

        No offence but watering down and further distributing the funding has always been a recipe for disaster. I think back to when we voted for the lottery awhile back. Those funds were originally supposed to go to the education system.

        Now little more than a decade later we still struggle to fund education meanwhile, those “lottery” funds are now used to for “growth and development” projects and the parks system and any other host of projects. Had we had all those lottery dollars to play with the states education system would be top notch, wifi perhaps even a computer on every desk in every school, seismic upgrades made without bonds, greater vocational classes….the whole works.

        And you just wait the art tax will eventually evolve as well into something different. It all starts with redefining “supporting the arts”, just as the definition of “education” was broadened to include the park service, since kids do take field trips to them.

        Don’t get me wrong many of the projects that the lottery funds fund, I do support, but once the cookie jar fills up there are too many hands looking to take it. If anything a system like this the funds should be put into a “lock box” (for lack of a better term). And use of the funds clearly defined, it’s not as if their will ever be a shortage of transportation improvement projects for the city.

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        • Daniel L April 22, 2014 at 11:38 am

          The lottery vote that I think you’re talking about wasn’t “For the lottery” it was to specifically allow lottery dollars to be spent on education, prior to that lottery funds were pretty much exclusively used for jobs and development programs. So while you’re right that it is a dilution of the funds from the original purpose you have it in the wrong order. Parks funding was added on 3 years after the schools measure.

          All of the measures to allocate lottery funds are also a direct result of measure 5 taking away property tax dollars, which would be the more correct way to fund things like schools. The arts tax, and the proposed streets fee are the same act of desperation since property tax revenue does not keep up with growth.

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        • davemess April 22, 2014 at 11:42 am

          But they very likely are not going to institute metered or permit parking in the lower income areas anyway. So they will get no real benefit from this, and the money would essentially just be going back to the already better funded inner neighborhoods.

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        • bjcefola April 22, 2014 at 3:35 pm

          There’s no funding to water down if there isn’t enough support to get started. Allowing funding for schools and parks broadens the appeal, it reaches out to demographics (households with kids, car dependent households) that might not be motivated by transit improvements.

          An option is not a mandate, and so long as neighborhoods are afforded direction they can spend it all on transit if that’s their priority.

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  • Oregon Mamacita April 22, 2014 at 7:34 am

    “That’s the thinking behind the City of Portland’s parking permit system, he said: it’s designed to be something a neighborhood asks for, not something a city imposes against residents’ will.”

    Note: Portland planning is a study in imposing rules on neighborhoods and neighborhoods suing. That is why we have re-instated parking minimums.

    “The philosophy is that if things are bad enough, they’ll come to you,” he said.

    Great- someone who admits that deliberate congestion is the great tool we need.

    Cars are not the only thing with a carbon footprint- your fridge (beef) and your pet (a big dog) are also driving climate change. Beer is not sustainable (too much water used in production). The city is providing fake leadership. Drinking beer at the Lucky Lab with your two Labs is not sustainable- but we only demonize drivers of cars.

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    • 9watts April 22, 2014 at 10:24 am

      “Drinking beer at the Lucky Lab with your two Labs is not sustainable- but we only demonize drivers of cars.”

      Care to dig up some numbers for your amusing comparison, Mamacita?

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      • Oregon Mamacita April 22, 2014 at 11:42 am

        Thank you for the opportunity. BTW- I like beer and dogs and I don’t like the idea of harshing my neighbor’s mellow.

        But see this:

        As for beer, I don’t have the research handy, but my understanding is that the breweries themselves are concerned about the amount of water necessary in the whole brewing process.

        Our response to climate change must be comprehensive. Portland’s current approach is destined to fail because it only looks at a few factors
        and because there is a top-down imposition of sacrifice. No pickup trucks for the poor, but the rich techie can keep two large dogs in his expensive condo.

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        • 9watts April 22, 2014 at 6:02 pm
        • James Sherbondy April 23, 2014 at 10:16 am

          Do you not understand the water cycle in the world? There’s no such thing as “wasting water”. It’s a closed system.

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          • 9watts April 23, 2014 at 11:14 am

            “There’s no such thing as ‘wasting water’. It’s a closed system.”

            In principle, yes. But tell that to the folks in California right about now. The oceans are still full of water.

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    • maccoinnich April 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      Given that the world is highly unlikely to stop drinking beer, wouldn’t Oregon, with its abundant rainfall, be an ideal place to brew beer?

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    • Chris I April 22, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      You know what? You’re right. Living creatures have a huge carbon footprint. Dogs? Get rid of them. And don’t even get me started on people that have children… come to think of it, wouldn’t we all just be better off if we just killed ourselves? Seems like the best way to lower our carbon footprint.

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      • Oregon Mamacita April 23, 2014 at 3:41 pm

        Chris, are you serious about climate change? Or is smart growth just
        selfish social engineering? We need to look at all the climate change factors- not just cars- so that life on earth is not hellish in the coming decades. I don’t have the knowledge of statistics to critique the dogs vs SUV argument- but it needs discussion. We need to look at what will be truly effective and not let small groups of dogmatic planners impose their own values on the rest of us. As for population control- it is very ugly when imposed by the state.
        If dogs are bad for the climate- why can’t we have dog sharing and smaller dogs. The big dogs don’t live long, so a campaign to raise awareness would not result in putting them down. We would just breed less dogs.

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    • GlowBoy April 22, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      You might have a point about climate change impacts, but managing density is about more than just the climate. My beef consumption and my dog might have significant climate impacts to car ownership, but their congestion impacts are much lower than driving and parking.

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  • davemess April 22, 2014 at 8:02 am

    You know who has parking permits? Vancouver, WA!
    Yeah, blew my mind too!

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    • Todd Boulanger April 22, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Yes that is true…generally just in the west side areas/ City Center.

      Our 1940s type on-street paid parking (meters) program pays for its direct costs (~$0.50 to $1.00/ hour per space) while our off-street structured developer parking has been a BIG annual loss from the City’s general fund ($1,000,000 to $2,000,000 / year). Though the program costs for the on-street spaces do not include resurfacing the streets, sweeping, storm water overtime, street rent, or lost opportunity costs of parking vs. cafe rental/ bike lanes, etc.

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  • jd April 22, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Yes, IF they figure out how to make it affordable for people whose bank accounts are in the red more than the black (speaking as someone who was there for the first few years I lived in Portland). I mostly biked and used my free bus pass from work, but I had a car that was towed a couple of times because a-hole neighbors thought it was ugly (to be fair, it was).

    You can argue that no one should have a car, but I don’t think you should argue that people who can afford it can have as many cars as they want and people scraping by can have zero.

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  • paul g. April 22, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Writing as a long time homeowner but also frequent cyclist: permits are coming but it’s going to be a lot harder than posters here think.

    “Perceived entitlement”–keep in mind that this behavior has been ingrained by decades of practice, development, and even laws.

    Do I view the strip in front of my house as “mine”? Yes, I do. I can’t get you towed or ticketed but a whole host of City laws and regulations require me to take care of that area.

    The City requires me to mow and otherwise maintain the parking strip.

    The City requires me to clean or pay to have cleaned the leaves that fall from the trees on that strip, and forbids me from cutting or trimming the trees on that strip.

    If your car is parked in front of my house on the day that the City street cleaners come through, even if I have paid the $30 fee, I have no recourse. I am out $30 and I still am obligated to clean the leaves myself.

    If there is a sewer grate on the street it is my obligation to keep it clear.

    If there is garbage on the street, I am obligated to put in into the waste bin that I pay a monthly fee to have collected.

    Recently, a contractor dumped some cement on our street. It sat there for a few months and the City refused to come scrape it and clean it despite repeated contacts. Not their cement, not their problem. Guess who finally removed it? Two homeowners with shovels and a lot of elbow grease.

    It’s all fine and dandy (and true) to claim that public streets are public conveyances, but the City has long relied on a partnership with property owners, including homeowners, in order to maintain the public infrastructure.

    You can’t so simply turn that off and say “you have no right to that parking spot” but by the way, all the other maintenance obligations remain in place.

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    • gutterbunny April 22, 2014 at 10:28 am

      I gotta admit that I too am a home owner and somewhat feel this way too, but I also live near a commercial facility in which “my” street parking is often taken by its employees (a nursing home). An employer who by the way offers little to no parking for it’s employees to use. Infact the Trimet short busses often block a bike lane for loading and unloading at this facility.

      Luckily I don’t have a drain on my curb, and with two fairly small trees street maintenance for me is minimal (also the forced labor of a teenager in the house helps too). So that isn’t much of a big deal.

      But limiting the parking permits on my street could help with too many cars on the block from this facility. Or since I have a driveway, which can contain a couple cars I could in theory rent my visitor pass or street pass to the employees or directly to this facility since I seldom park on the street, perhaps even for a profit.

      Also since the funds generated haven’t been allocated, there is nothing saying that those some of those funds couldn’t be used to alleviate some of the responsibilities of the property owners as well. Like perhaps street sweepers every two weeks instead of once a month.

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    • 9watts April 22, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Your point is well taken. I’ll only quibble with the last sentence.
      “You can’t so simply turn that off and say ‘you have no right to that parking spot’ but by the way, all the other maintenance obligations remain in place.”

      A parking benefit district only says that the age-old habit of parking as many cars as you cared to for freein the public right of way has come to an end. You can still park one car, (two cars), perhaps even for free, but not an unlimited number. And if you have ten friends over they might want to think about how they get there.

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    • davemess April 22, 2014 at 11:46 am

      I’m confused by your use of “parking strip”. Are you talking about the actual street surface, which would not have grass and trees (which you mention)?

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      • Buzz Aldrin April 22, 2014 at 1:32 pm

        the ‘parking strip’ is the zone between the curb and the sidewalk, not the same as the parking space on the street side of the curb. the city also owns the sidewalk but requires the adjacent property owner to pay for its maintenance as well.

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        • davemess April 22, 2014 at 2:31 pm

          That was my understanding. So it is really about maintaining your property and not necessarily the parking spot (minus the sewer grates, etc.)

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          • Brian April 23, 2014 at 6:19 am

            Not entirely. I live on NE Davis. We have three large trees on our curb strip, so I spend time sweeping and picking up debris from the street year-round to keep it clean for all of us (and looking nice). Not saying that it gives me a right to anything, but it does take time and effort to keep clean especially living on a corner. And I don’t own a leafblower, but I do have two pugs and I drink more beer than most.

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            • davemess April 23, 2014 at 1:53 pm

              many cities will clean leaves from the street, but it sounds like that’s not the case here. I wonder if that’s due to the large amount of evergreens we have.

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    • GlowBoy April 22, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      You might be responsible for maintaining the planting strip and sidewalk in front of my house (and BTW I own a corner lot, so I’m responsible for 3x as much of this as your typical homeowner), but it does NOT mean you own it. I too enjoy parking in front of my house (and I live on a quiet street where parking is not contentious, but like 1/3 of my neighbors I don’t have a driveway) … if someone else is there when I come home, I might have to walk a few extra yards. So be it. I might enjoy the convenience of using that space most of the time, but it is not mine.

      My property ends at the near edge of the sidewalk. Beyond that line, I have responsibility to take care of it, and some ability to landscape and plant the strip to match my desires, but I no have any illusions that it is “mine.”

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  • MaxD April 22, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I believe this would be a great tool for Portland and Portland neighborhoods. One thing that I believe Portland has been doing poorly as it densifies is increasing its commitment to offering amenities. As I understand density, it is a tradeoff between having your own small personal space, transportation, etc for a a shared, and better set of nearby spaces and transportation. Portland has been successfully getting people to give up their own personal space (house, yard, garage, etc) and to some small extent their personal transportation (in the form of a car, at least). But, I have not seen a correlating increased commitment to public transportation, and alternative transportation or investment in shared spaces. On the one hand, bus service along Division is cut, on the other hand, hundred of new no-car/low-car apartments are built and no new park space is added. I think no-parking apartments are great, but the City foolishly gives it away to developers. Why not require some shared amenity space in lieu of parking, it could be space for gardening, barbequing, or a shared workshop. Without building this into new development, it falls to the City to increase park space, increase park maintenance, etc. A local revenue stream from neighborhood parking passes could help fund open space expansion and maintenance, increased transit, and bike/ped improvements.

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  • was carless April 22, 2014 at 10:17 am

    I am uncomfortable with just handing over all that revenue to the neighborhoods. How about a split: ie, 50/50 city:n’hood?

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  • grumpcyclist April 22, 2014 at 11:04 am

    The more we charge for parking the better of we’ll be as a society. The poor will be forced to do what they should be doing anyway if they knew what was good for them(dump their cars for bikes) and the wealthy will pay for major bike improvements.

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    • Oregon Mamacita April 22, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      I am sure the poor appreciate your telling them what is best. Unfortunately, you are wrong. Read this: It is a study showing that the differing rates of unemployment for black men and latinos is due to lower car ownership. Just because you are poor doesn’t mean you are stupid. Hence bike mode share not growing in PDX. It’s for certain people only.

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      • gutterbunny April 22, 2014 at 9:36 pm

        Having grown up in one Rust belts metropolis I can say that some of that study is somewhat misleading.

        Take for example the city I grew up in Detroit. Bus service and public transportation was never reliable or on time. Sometimes the buses wouldn’t come at all. And since the Detroit metro region is huge with no reliable transportation one who didn’t have a car wouldn’t be able to commute to the jobs that were fleeing to the new burbs farther and farther out from the city core. Of course the poor inner city populations couldn’t afford to move to the shiney new burbs where many of the jobs moved to (or at least the ones that stayed in the area).

        Keep in mind that the Detroit metro area is probably around 100 miles north to south, probably about 40 miles East to West. Not really feasible to commute by bike. And what public transportation there was didn’t extend much into the burbs at all if at all if I remember right.

        Chicago was much the same way though better they at least had the El (Detroit had the famous People Mover which was a complete flop), and so was Cleveland, Toledo, Gary Ind. etc….

        So though it looks like lack of cars are part of the problem urban poverty, it is also just as much a problem of lack of decent public transportation as well, perhaps even more so.

        Though I didn’t read the entire paper a quick CTRL F yielded no results for the terms “public transportation”,”bus”, or “train”. Which makes me feel this studies is too narrow of focus to be of much use to anyone but the automobile sales industry.

        Though really much of the plight is geographic bias as well. You’d have a hard time getting a job anywhere in Detroit if you said you lived in the Cass Corridor, or other rough neighborhoods. Just like in Chicago you’d never get a job if you said you lived in Cabrini Green (which has been demolished and gentrified now). Even if you had a car and could get to work on time, and had impeccable credentials/experience as well.

        Growing up in Detroit really makes me appreciate this city and its UGB and its demands that property gets rehabbed and rebuilt. Once you’ve seen how bad urban flight can be, you really don’t mind the downsides of gentrification because they aren’t nearly as bad as the alternative.

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      • Chris I April 23, 2014 at 7:47 am

        Unemployment is correlated with the ability to not access jobs. In the study you cited, this relationship is also somewhat correlated with car ownership, because in the cities studied, you essentially need to own a car to get to work.

        You seem to believe that we should build a city where everyone drives. We have those already; they are all over the country. We are trying to build a city where the poor have the ability to safely walk, bike, or take public transit to access all of the jobs in the region. Cars cost thousands of dollars to own and maintain every year. How is forced car ownership going to help the poor?

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  • dan April 22, 2014 at 11:05 am

    If we had a system of parking permits, then no-parking developments could go back on the table. I.e., once we can guarantee that people in no-parking buildings aren’t just parking their cars on the street, then those buildings become _much_ more attractive additions to the neighborhood. Codes need to be amended such that if you’re in a building with no parking, you’re not eligible for a street parking permit.

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    • 9watts April 22, 2014 at 11:13 am

      That’s the punitive Home Owner’s Association approach to this idea: stick it to the renters. But my understanding of the Market approach is that it dispenses with that sort of bias, and focuses on pricing the permits such that there are always a few spots left/vacant.

      But it is also worth considering the dynamic aspects of this parking benefit district approach. As TonyJ keeps reminding us, those who don’t currently own cars they wish to park on the street are subsidizing those who do. With this Parking Benefit District, living in dense, close-in neighborhoods in buildings without off-street car parking will/should cost less–the residents can recoup some of the societal benefits of not owning a car through lower living expenses.

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    • TonyJ April 22, 2014 at 11:24 am

      You don’t even need to ban them, if everyone’s paying an appropriate price, it provides an incentive for those WITH parking to use it because they know someone else will be paying into the neighborhood kitty for much needed safety and beautification purposes.

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      • dan April 22, 2014 at 12:24 pm

        Good point Tony. As it stands now, allowing developers to build non-parking buildings just means that we subsidize developer profits — they don’t invest in building parking, and their tenants park for free on the street.

        Appropriate pricing works just as well — either way, taxpayers don’t subsidize developer profits, and with market-priced parking, the city / neighborhood benefits.

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        • 9watts April 22, 2014 at 12:31 pm

          “their tenants park for free on the street”
          Let’s not forget that some (disputed but nonzero) share of the residents in buildings that lack off street car parking don’t own cars. 24% of renters in Multnomah County are carfree; how many of them find their way into these buildings, or into other accommodations without off street car parking is not clear but when discussing these matters I think it is important to keep them in mind.

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          • dan April 22, 2014 at 1:13 pm

            Hey 9watts, good point and I don’t disagree. That’s the intent of those non-parking buildings, and I think non-parking buildings are great for the neighborhood / city when the tenants actually are car free.

            On the other hand, the systems we’re discussing here won’t really impact that group, right? (Other than cutting down car traffic in their neighborhood and making it easier / safer to bike, that is.)

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            • 9watts April 22, 2014 at 1:19 pm

              I think a Parking Benefit District can impact that group, in that the funds which their car-happy neighbors and visitors are paying go (typically) toward projects that offset some of the externalities of a car-happy society: park benches, bus shelters, etc.

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        • Daniel L April 22, 2014 at 1:08 pm

          I still don’t understand how this “subsidizes developer profits”

          It’s not the developer that pays for the parking, it inevitably gets passed on to the renter or owner. The reason that no-parking developments are being proposed and built isn’t because they are more profitable it is because there is high demand for that type of housing, which makes them likely to succeed. The alternative isn’t the same type of units at the same cost just with parking included, it is much more expensive units which usually means a shift to the luxury market, upping the size of the units and the features, and making them less affordable.

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          • dan April 22, 2014 at 1:16 pm

            There’s more upside on 20 units without parking than 10 units with parking — can’t charge enough for the hypothetical building with parking to make up for the smaller number of units. Those numbers are just for example, but you see what I’m getting at.

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            • Daniel L April 22, 2014 at 3:04 pm

              I don’t see where you’re going. I’ve seen real numbers on projects before and they don’t match your assumptions. You’re right that they can’t charge enough directly for the parking to make up for it so it has to be made up in other areas. That most often means going up market where the profit margins are higher. The developer ends up making approximately the same amount regardless when all is said and done (though admittedly it’s only a guess what the other way would have been), providing of course that the project is feasible at all when the parking requirements are factored in. Bottom line is developers don’t plan projects to lose money on.

              I guess in a roundabout way parking requirements do hit developers because they greatly reduce the number of potential projects. That hurts the rest of us more though because the housing supply is limited and rents continue to rise.

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          • davemess April 22, 2014 at 2:36 pm

            “The reason that no-parking developments are being proposed and built isn’t because they are more profitable”

            Why do you think this is true? There is demand for them, but they definitely are more profitable for the developers. They can use more space for housing and not parking. This equals more income for them. Won’t the city get an increase in tax base as well?

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            • Daniel L April 22, 2014 at 3:11 pm

              costs aren’t exclusively about square footage. Yes there’s more room to put in units, that doesn’t necessarily equate to more profit, each of those units costs money to make, and finish out (have you priced out how much a kitchen costs to construct lately?) so 20 smaller units is not necessarily a higher margin than 10 larger units + parking. But it’s usually not that an extreme a difference, it’s probably more like 20 units vs 15 units because there are a slew of other things to factor in.

              There maybe is more property tax, but again not necessarily if the value of the lower number of units is kept high because they are made to be upmarket then the total value of the property may be the same, so it is the same amount of property tax. I don’t know how all the property tax limits factor in on that though.

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              • gutterbunny April 22, 2014 at 10:12 pm

                I’ll see your 10 kitchens and raise you one Iron framed or tilt up concrete structure with a minimum of a 6″ concrete floor pour for a parking structure (and that’s not including the cost of security measures for the auto parking as well and added elevator levels etc). Honestly, all 10 of those kitchens at best would barely cover the cost of the fabrication and installation of the iron support structure.

                It’s not like the units were talking about (the close in east side ones) would be simple curb knock out driveways, Most these apartments would be built over multi-story parking structures if they offered parking.

                In the grand scheme of building buildings, parking costs more per square foot than your typical kitchen. So yes the developers save money on building the apartments without parking.

                Except in many apartments they charge for a parking (especially the ones closer in), and the rent on the parking space is often more per square foot than the apartment is priced at per square foot (last apartment I lived in a decade ago per my parking spot was rented to me at roughly 125% of the apartment itself per square foot).

                So in effect they are losing money because the over the long haul they have the potential to make more charging rent on the parking than even the units that the people live in.

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  • blurg April 22, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    “24% of renters in Multnomah County are carfree”

    I suspect that a considerably higher percentage of renters on 122nd Ave are “car free” then on SE Division. Car ownership is highly correlated with income.

    The SE Examiner profiled a typical occupant of car-free housing on Division:

    “Katie Parsons, 30 years old and recently returned to Oregon after a twelve year stint in NY City and Columbus Ohio, lives in one of the no off-street parking buildings completed on Division St. When she and her 31 year old husband toured the 600 foot split loft they moved into 3 months ago, they were told that they should be able to park within a one and one half block radius of their new home.

    That’s true for now she says as two even larger apartment complexes right across the street finish construction. Katie and her husband own two cars, but really only use one and are planning to sell the other in the new year.”

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    • 9watts April 22, 2014 at 3:14 pm

      “I suspect that a considerably higher percentage of renters on 122nd Ave are ‘car free’ then on SE Division. Car ownership is highly correlated with income.”

      The actual numbers might surprise you. 19% of the renter households (392/2060) in the three census tracts that most closely align with the Richmond Neighborhood (8.01, 9.01, and 13.02) did not own a car according to the 2010 American Community Survey.

      Everyone thinks they know what there is to know about how income and car non/ownership are related, but checking the census is a pretty good way to learn whether you are actually correct.

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      • blurg April 22, 2014 at 3:18 pm

        “19% of the renter households (392/2060) in the three census tracts that most closely align with the Richmond Neighborhood (8.01, 9.01, and 13.02) did not own a car according to the 2010 American Community Survey.”

        So a lower percentage of renters in Richmond are car free than renters in Multnomah County generally (19% vs. 24%). Have equivalent figures for some representative census tracts along 122nd?

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        • 9watts April 22, 2014 at 3:22 pm

          Not yet.

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          • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
            Michael Andersen (News Editor) April 22, 2014 at 5:03 pm

            But I do! At 122nd and Division, Census says 20 percent of renters don’t own cars. Further out, at 170th and Division, it’s 36 percent.

            I think it’s safe to say that most of the people living without cars in Richmond could make some reasonable sacrifices (such as location) to own cars if they really wanted to, while most of the people living without cars at 170th and Division would have to make much more significant sacrifices.

            Not drawing any further conclusions from that, just noting the numbers.

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            • 9watts April 22, 2014 at 5:48 pm

              Thanks, Michael. I knew you’d have more data at your fingertips.

              I find the facile dismissal of the category of carfree households, as being without a car because they can’t afford one like the rest of us, unhelpful and, frankly, probably obsolete. The trend, as we’ve noted here many times, is away from automatic ownership of cars. We haven’t even mentioned homeowners who don’t own cars (4% of Richmond households, according to my dataset referenced above).

              Instead of trivializing this, I think it would be much more interesting to keep an open mind about what sorts of people don’t own cars, and why.

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    • 9watts April 22, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      “The SE Examiner profiled a typical occupant of car-free housing on Division”
      I remember that piece. Someone had a lot of fun putting that piece together, but as to whether that couple’s attitude toward car ownership is in fact typical of these buildings is as I said contested. Attempts to survey the car ownership rates of the residents of these buildings have yielded divergent figures.

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      • blurg April 22, 2014 at 3:27 pm

        Walk around Division Street near the “car-free” apartment buildings, and observe the number of cars parked on the street. Draw your own conclusions.

        While I’m sure it’s true that Division is a draw for some affluent people who can afford the rents, and choose not to own a car, I suspect that the overwhelming majority of people living in these buildings fall into the “yeah, I own a car, but I really don’t use it very much” class.

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        • 9watts April 22, 2014 at 5:51 pm

          “Walk around Division Street near the ‘car-free’ apartment buildings, and observe the number of cars parked on the street. Draw your own conclusions.”

          I have. Thanks. My conclusions appear to differ from yours.

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          • blurg April 22, 2014 at 6:08 pm

            Do it early Sunday morning, when nobody is going to restaurants and stores on Division.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu April 22, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    We talking about a $12/head Street Fee plus say $65/car street parking fee? So a family of four with two cars street-parked would pay $180/year.

    Would be interesting to estimate how much revenue a street parking fee might raise for the city and neighborhoods to divide up. Both “gross” revenue and “net” revenue – that is net of costs, such as administrative expenses for the program, collection and payment processing costs, costs for more parking enforcement officers, etc.

    For comparison, PBOT claims a $12/head Street Fee could bring in $52MM revenue. I’m not sure how much “net” revenue is claimed.

    By the way, the Arts Tax of $35/adult is currently bringing in roughly $9MM/yr of gross revenue, with net revenue about 87% of gross. It looks like gross revenue is expected to increase some, and the net revenue will move closer to gross (i.e. program costs will decline) in future years.

    I’m not clear on why the Street Fee is expected to bring in 5X what the Arts Tax is actually doing. Anyone know?

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    • TonyJ April 22, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      After decades of running an effective deficit for “happy motoring” it’s pretty clear that bills are coming due. The longer we wait to balance the books on the costs of driving places we don’t need to, the bigger the bill will be that we leave to our kids.

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    • zuckerdog April 22, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      The Street Fee is montly while the Arts tax is per annual.

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      • davemess April 22, 2014 at 2:38 pm

        And the former is per household, while the latter is per person, right?

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      • John Liu
        John Liu April 22, 2014 at 2:38 pm

        Ah, I totally missed that! Thanks.

        So the family of four with two cars street parked would pay $576/yr in Street Fee and $130/yr in street parking fee, for $706/yr? Do I have it right now?

        If correct, that feels like a rather significant bite.

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        • Reza April 22, 2014 at 5:58 pm

          The street fee is by household, so your hypothetical family pays $12 X 12 months = $144.

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  • Lazy Spinner April 22, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Why not just put a parking meter / ticket printer like those in commercial areas on each residential block? Charge visitors by the hour, residents that park on the street can “plug” the meter for a flat $15 All Day/Overnight rate. That would get some garages cleaned out and driveways used in a hurry. If your unit doesn’t have off street parking or your driveway cannot handle that third or fourth family vehicle, then you can pony up for a $1000 annual parking pass per vehicle or make some hard choices.

    Why charge a street fee per head or household? Seems silly and unfair to assess a tax on children that don’t drive, those that use their own property to park, or a car-free household. Make those using the spaces pay.

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  • GlowBoy April 22, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    I’m a lot more in favor of a residential parking fee (with the fees based on how contentious/congested parking is in each neighborhood) than the per-household Street Fee that Novick is proposing.

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  • dwainedibbly April 22, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Charge for the permits, and have annual increases that are much greater than the rate of inflation. It will wean people off of on-street parking so that eventually that street-space can be converted to bicycling infrastructure without too many street-parkers getting bent out of shape.

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  • gutterbunny April 22, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    If this goes through I gotta say I’d rather it just be another property tax.

    That way my mortage company has to deal with the paperwork instead of yet another batch that I gotta deal with at tax time, or worse yet another monthly bill (well, at least until I pay the house off, at that point I’ll be a lot less concerned).

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    • davemess April 23, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Not me, I don’t park on the street in front of my house and don’t want to help pay for the people who can’t use their own driveway.

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  • dan April 23, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Yeah, setting it up as a monthly bill that we pay separately is hands down the most irritating way it could possibly be done. Honestly, I wouldn’t care if they would just roll it into property taxes — it would be less than one-tenth of one percent of assessed value for my home, substantially less than the normal annual increase of my property tax bill.

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    • davemess April 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      It would just be a one time a year charge? How do you guys pay your bills monthly, if you think the act of payment would be such a burden?

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  • jim April 24, 2014 at 12:49 am

    Apartment buildings should not get a whole bunch of parking permits when they don’t provide any on site spots. 75 apartments with no parking is more than what there is room for in front of that building.

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    • 9watts April 24, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      In all the census tracts I’ve checked, owner-occupied housing is associated with more cars, and more cars per capita, than renter-occupied housing. The problem with too many cars given the amount of public space on which to store them is disproportionately due to the horseless carriages of the homeowners, not the renters. Yet there’s so much hue and cry about imagined renters’ cars. Why?

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  • Spiffy April 24, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Are parking permits a solution to neighborhood parking wars?


    I didn’t even have to read the article…'s_law_of_headlines

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  • hamsa April 27, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I live downtown, there is only metered parking near my building and my building has no parking garage. There are NO monthly spaces currently available in nearby garages w/ monthly rates. We scoured NW & downtown looking for free street parking and have to park the car quite a distance from our apartment. I’d gladly have paid for a parking permit but the city said no parking permits for residents that live near metered parking. Total BS.

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