Splendid Cycles

Task force likes proposal to restrict main-street residents’ curbside parking rights

Posted by on August 6th, 2015 at 11:57 am

Portland Bureau of Transportation planner Grant Morehead discusses parking policies with the city’s Centers and Corridors parking stakeholder committee.
(Photos: M.Andersen and J.Maus/BikePortland)

Central-city apartment dwellers might want to start looking into that whole car-free thing pretty soon.

An advisory committee composed almost entirely of residents of residential zones gave a general thumbs-up Wednesday night to a city proposal that could let residents of residential zones vote to prevent people who live on commercial streets from buying overnight parking permits in their neighborhoods.

Because most of Portland’s commercial main streets are zoned for mixed-use or employment, the proposed parking permit system — which would also charge residential permit holders a yet-to-be determined monthly or annual fee for curbside parking — would effectively let residents just off of commercial corridors remove curbside parking rights from residents of most nearby multifamily buildings.

The city’s idea is that such a system would lead developers of buildings on commercial corridors to include more on-site auto parking in their new buildings, or else to market their buildings more successfully to car-free residents.

Also looming over the talks, though in the background: the risk that too-stringent parking requirements might further limit Portland’s supply of additional housing, making rents rise even faster in older, more affordable buildings than they already are.

Most committee members seemed to think that the city’s proposed rules, which would put the biggest new burdens on developers and residents of commercial corridors, hit a useful balance.

“I think if the neighborhood went to a permit program, the developer would be incentivized to build parking,” said committee member Kristin Slavin. “If I had to pay for parking and was living in an apartment, I would rather know I had a spot.”

Main-street residents should get to buy permits too, some say

SE Division Street.

Though more than half of the committee members said they supported, or could at least live with, the general outlines of the city’s proposal (PDF), various members said they would prefer residents of mixed-use and employment zones to be able to buy parking permits too.

“I’m choking on that issue of a resident of a mixed-use building not having access to those permits, because I think that’s not fair,” said Ted Labbe, who nonetheless called it a “good proposal.”

Mike Westling agreed, saying that without an option for main-street residents to buy permits, the zoning-based system would be de facto discrimination against residents of multifamily buildings.

“We say we want to be housing-type neutral, but in practice, it’s not going to be housing-type neutral,” Westling said.

Allen Field said it seemed fair for residential permit holders to be allowed to sell their permits to other people who wanted them.

“People in mixed-use buildings should be able to get parking permits,” he said. “Developers are allowed to buy and trade development rights.”

Sue Pearce said she could imagine that scenario, too.

“I have visions of the black market and the price going up and up — and my second question is, is that really a problem?” Pearce said. “If people are willing to pay the price.”

How much should parking permits cost?

An empty garage at Linden apartments, SE 12th and Burnside. Parking on nearby streets is scarce but free, so many residents continue to park cars there rather than pay $110 a month for garage access.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

When it came to the price the city should charge residents of residential zones for permits, several committee members said that $60 a year — a number thrown out by city staffer Grant Morehead as a figure that would be too low to achieve the desired effect — was too high.

“It’s going to increase the problem of Portland becoming an unaffordable city for a lot of people,” said Field of the $60 a year permit price. “A lot of people are one payment away from losing their homes.”

“For some areas, that’s really high, and that will be unaffordable to a lot of people,” agreed Gail Hoffnagle.

Others disagreed.

“If the permit price is around that $60, it seems like it’s not enough to get to the goals you’re talking about,” said Kurt Norback. “It can’t be too high, but it can’t be too low.”


Tony Jordan said a price in the tens of dollars a month would still be small compared to other costs of car ownership.

“The city doesn’t subsidize water,” he said. “The city doesn’t subsidize garbage. There’s lots of things that we make people pay for. … It’s fair to say that the cost of car ownership includes the cost of storing your car.”

“I don’t necessarily support punitive fees for car ownership, but I would love it if we would simply remove all the subsidies that society has for car ownership today,” said Chris Smith. “The ideal we’re trying to get to is a city where a car is a luxury good. Where you can choose to use a car but you don’t have to.”

Should neighborhoods get a share of the revenue?

Crosswalks in action-2

If a share of parking permit revenue could go toward nearby amenities like crosswalks, sidewalks, transit service or bike infrastructure, some said neighborhoods would be likelier to back permit districts.

The city, looking for consensus where it can get it, has so far avoided slapping a sticker price on its proposed overnight residential parking permits, or discussing how the revenue might be allocated. All the same, several committee members said neighborhoods that create parking permit systems for themselves should be rewarded with a share of the new revenue.

“The neighborhoods should have control of some of the money — 30 percent, 50 percent, 70 percent,” said Jordan. “It’s not like you’re taking money away and stuffing it in some pot downtown. … You’re putting it in and it stings less because you’re going to get a crosswalk or you’re going to get a beacon.”

Kay Newell had a similar suggestion.

“Every neighborhood in the city could say, we want this this and this pothole done,” she said.

Smith, who is a city planning commissioner as well as a member of the committee, sounded a similar note, saying he sees the parking reform effort as a way to prevent political backlash against urban infill and other policies that support a shift to low-car, low-carbon life.

“In pursuing policies that move us along, we’re creating change so fast that we’re creating backlash,” Smith said. “I think in some ways the central challenge of this committee is how do we keep moving forward in a way that has so much support in the body politic that they’re willing to let us keep doing that.”

Unheard voices and other problems

NE 102nd and Burnside

Parking is not scarce in East Portland, but the Portland area’s 10-year-long housing shortage has driven up housing prices, pushing many residents who don’t own cars into lower-rent car-oriented neighborhoods.

Though most committee members present Wednesday were supportive of the proposal, including people of various political stripes, various concerns were raised.

Hoffnagle, for one, didn’t seem to buy the notion that the permit system described would actually get developers to include auto parking in their apartment buildings.

“We haven’t addressed the root of the problem, which is apartment buildings with no parking,” she said.

Newell, longtime owner of Sunlan Lighting on Mississippi Avenue, said she worried there wasn’t enough discussion of “livability.”

“If our communities aren’t livable, inviting, we are going to create a ghetto,” Newell said. “That’s what Mississippi was 25 years ago. And we don’t want that anywhere in our city.”

No committee members or staff responded to that.

At a different point in the meeting, Pearce said she feared the committee was failing to follow the advice of one panelist in last month’s city-sponsored parking symposium: “protect the incumbent.”

Rebecca Kennedy, however, took issue with that.

“We need to really think about balancing incumbency with stuff like affordability and equity,” Kennedy said. “While it’s not great that people’s streets are filled up with cars that aren’t theirs … we also live in a city that is getting increasingly unaffordable, and the idea that we’re going to favor incumbents — we’re talking about a certain kind of incumbent. We’re talking about a privileged incumbent. We’re talking about the people who are sitting around this table.”

Of the 18 members of the city-selected stakeholder committee that weighed in on the issue Wednesday night, 17 (or 94 percent) said they live in residential zones. Of the 18, 15 said they were homeowners. Zero said they considered themself a person of color.

Sixteen percent of Portland housing units are in mixed-use or employment zones. Forty-seven percent of Portland households are tenants. Twenty-eight percent of Portlanders identify as people of color.

(The task force figures above apply only to members of the city’s “Centers and Corridors” parking stakeholder advisory committee who were present near the end of Wednesday’s meeting. The final two citywide figures come from the Census Bureau; the first comes from the city planning bureau.)

The city’s parking reform process will continue for the next few months, with the city working out more details of the proposal and vetting them with the committee. At that point Morehead and other staffers are expected to make a recommendation to the city council.

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  • davemess August 6, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    “It’s going to increase the problem of Portland becoming an unaffordable city for a lot of people,” said Field of the $60 a year permit price. “A lot of people are one payment away from losing their homes.”

    I’m sorry, but in the neighborhoods where parking is a problem, I find this a little unbelievable of a statement. I mean most of those areas are $400K+ houses. If your finances are stretched so tight that you live in an expensive house and can’t afford $60/year you’re doing something majorly wrong.

    “The ideal we’re trying to get to is a city where a car is a luxury good. Where you can choose to use a car but you don’t have to.”

    And that’s the rub, because in much of the outer neighborhoods of the city you still mostly have to have a car, due to poor walking/bike infrastructure, long and spotty bus service, and in less than month lack of Car2Go-type services. We’re essentially building two different cities, but trying to make them play under the same rules.

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    • Anne Hawley August 6, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Some of the people now living in $400K+ houses have lived there since the value wasn’t remotely that high.

      I live in a house whose value has skyrocketed because of its close-in, formerly “bad neighborhood” location. I’m also now retired and on a fixed income, a choice I was able to make in part because of staying put. $60 a year wouldn’t break the bank, but it’s not nothing, either.

      On the other hand, I agree with you in principle. It’s imperative that we stop subsidizing so many costs of car ownership. If $60 a year poses a provable hardship for someone, I imagine some kind of waiver could be put in place.

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      • MaxD August 6, 2015 at 1:03 pm

        Or they could park in their driveway?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 1:25 pm

          Not all houses have driveways.

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          • MaxD August 6, 2015 at 2:32 pm

            Why should a house without a driveway be able to buy a permit to park on the street but a resident of an apartment without a parking lot not be able to buy a parking lot. Theoretically, these 2 structures could be next door! If you bought a house without a driveway, you should have no more expectation of free/cheap parking than the apartment dweller!

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 3:11 pm

              If you were in the same zone, you would have the same ability to buy a permit!

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              • MaxD August 6, 2015 at 3:13 pm

                Arbritrarily carving up a neighborhood by development zoning does not seem equitable to me, it seems like a convenient tool of NIMBY’s to protect their use of public property.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 4:08 pm

                The logic of doing so is explained pretty well in the comments down lower. It may not be ideal, but it is not completely arbitrary. There is a very long history of making different rules for people in area zoned differently. If you want to argue for abolishing zoning, that is a different conversation.

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              • lop August 6, 2015 at 5:13 pm

                There’s a history or reserving access to public spaces based on zoning of your residence in Portland? All the existing parking zones are based on proximity, not the zoning of the lot. Zoning restricts what you can do with your private property. Not who is allowed to use public assets. What’s next? If a school is full instead of squeezing in a few more desks or adding a trailer for an extra classroom are you going to tell kids who don’t live in a residential zone that they’re out of luck?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 7, 2015 at 5:56 pm

                Not parking rules but lots of other rules, including what you can do with the sidewalk adjacent to your property, as well as the parking area (can you install one of those street-seating areas restaurants have in a residential zone?) Frankly, restricting what I do with my private property feels a lot more intrusive than regulating what I can do on public property.

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            • Spiffy August 7, 2015 at 7:01 am

              if you live in a house with a driveway then you should not be allowed to buy a street parking permit…

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          • davemess August 6, 2015 at 9:24 pm

            True, not all houses do have driveways, but if parking is so important to people I would like to think that having off street parking should have factored into their house purchase (maybe not 20-30 years ago, but times have drastically changed).

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        • Anne Hawley August 6, 2015 at 2:21 pm

          Well, I could, if I had a car, but many of these old houses don’t have driveways or garages.

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      • 9watts August 6, 2015 at 1:27 pm

        “$60 a year wouldn’t break the bank, but it’s not nothing, either.”

        I think it is important not to lose sight of the fact that this $60 figure is unlike the Street Fee in that there are many ways around having to pay it. In the short run owning a car is a discretionary choice (for more people than probably realize it). In the long run it is/will reveal itself to be discretionary for everyone.

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        • Eric Leifsdad August 7, 2015 at 1:31 am

          I would love to see $60/year auto parking permits instead of the ridiculous street fee schemes of how to fund repairs of damage to streets caused by autos. The great thing about usage fees is you don’t have to pay if you don’t use it, and your funding for fixes grows with the source of the problem. Maybe it should be more like $50/month. As for equality, If you can’t afford a place to park your car, wow just think of what you’ll do with all the money you save by getting rid of it! Giving everyone a parking spot is nearly the same as requiring everyone to buy a car and drive it everywhere.

          The only way I can explain all the kerfuffle about renters getting permits is “talking about parking makes people crazy” (sorry, can’t find the link.) If you live in a dense apartment sharing 50ft of curb with 30 units, why not expect to share one parking spot for the whole building? How much do you pay per square foot in rent and you want another 200 square feet free for your car? Even for buying permits, why wouldn’t you expect to be competing with those 30 units for one available parking permit?

          It might be interesting to see the market try to figure out how much parking is worth. Clearly, the $110/month garage isn’t super popular right now, but without free street parking, we might see more apartment developers bet on parking or even standalone parking garages/lots appear down the street from some “car free” apartments. Homeowners renting out garages? Then, the swing back as car ownership continues to fall and we end up with multi-story food cart malls and other re-purposed parking garages.

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  • Phil August 6, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    So the people who got used to storing unlimited personal property on public streets want to make sure that privilege never goes away? Public parking should be public. Charge for it if you like (you probably should), but you can’t say certain people can’t use it at all. What a joke.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) August 6, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      Though I didn’t get into it in this post (because the city staffer didn’t emphasize it during this meeting) the city has floated the suggestion that people who live on main streets might be able to buy into these permit zones. Also, as discussed beneath the first subhed, various committee members endorsed this concept.

      I would be a little surprised if the final proposal didn’t offer any option for people who live on main streets to buy permits, but how easy and affordable such a purchase would be is definitely up in the air.

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      • lop August 6, 2015 at 2:07 pm

        Aren’t they pushing Shoup’s solution of giving people living in the residential zone first dibs on public property there though? If they do, will they give residents of the mixed use zone first dibs on public property where they live? So the car free residents of apartments can vote for a transit or bike lane instead of parking or general traffic lanes they don’t use. Seems fair.

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      • bjcefola August 7, 2015 at 6:05 am

        I think this is a pretty important question. If permits are held exclusively by district residents, it looks more like a sundown law than a parking management tool.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      Yes! I’d happily pay a fee for parking my car in front of my residence! I only ask that if I pay for it, the spot will be available to me.

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      • MaxD August 6, 2015 at 2:18 pm

        I do not think that is how it works: permits will llow you to park on a street within a defined zone for an extended time period. You will not be guaranteed the space in front of your house

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 2:30 pm

          I know that. I’m just saying that if people have to pay, they’ll be even more protective of the spots in front of their houses. I know I would.

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          • John Lascurettes August 6, 2015 at 5:34 pm

            You want to guarantee your spot in front of your house as yours? You’re going to need to pony up a heck of a lot more than $60/year for that.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 5:45 pm

              I’m willing to pay the full market price.

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              • John Lascurettes August 6, 2015 at 6:13 pm

                I believe private spots in new development are estimated at a cost of about $30,000.

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              • lop August 6, 2015 at 7:19 pm

                That’s the cost of construction. Parking often has to be mandated because it’s not worth the cost of construction.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 7, 2015 at 8:20 am

                Market price is what people are willing to pay. An auction is the best way too determine that.

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  • Alex Reed August 6, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    If we’re going to protect incumbents’ parking (which seems politically inevitable), let’s protect incumbents. What this current proposal does is reserve parking for residents – including myself – of lower-density areas that are largely single-family homes (Residential-zoned areas). Us “residential” zoned residents tend to be wealthier but aren’t more worthy of City resources than others. Just because our residences take up more street frontage doesn’t mean we have more right to the street.

    I don’t think it’s workable to implement a parking permit program by when someone moved into the neighborhood (what’s the data source on that?). More workable seems to me when the building was built, which is another sort of “incumbency.”

    So here’s my idea: the city surveys parking spots and allows X number of permits based on Y number of parking spots in the area. People apply for a parking permit. On the first go-round, each household only gets one permit, and people with off-street parking dedicated to them (whether in a single-family driveway or a multifamily parking lot) don’t get a permit. If more than X eligible applicants, the city ranks applicants by how old their building is. Residents of the newest buildings (including single-family homes) don’t get permits. If there are permits leftover after the first one-parking-spot-per-household round, the “extra” ones can go to be second parking spots for households that already have first permits, or first permits for households that have off-street parking.

    Permits should be able to be bought and sold so that people in newer buildings or with off-street parking can access on-street parking if they really need to. This would get us enough incumbency bias to be politically viable, but would have less (though still some) de facto bias against multifamily residents.

    Day passes would be sold in a separate mechanism.

    Whaddaya think?

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    • Anne Hawley August 6, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      I don’t completely follow your logic on building age, but in general this seems like a fair compromise.

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      • Alex Reed August 6, 2015 at 12:53 pm

        I guess the idea is, in areas that have more demand than supply for (free) parking, that the newer buildings created the additional demand. Thus, it’s maybe fair in some sense to ask the residents of those buildings to have to pay more (i.e. buy a permit from a resident who’s further up the queue) to get parking?

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    • Tom Hardy August 6, 2015 at 2:14 pm

      I have lived in the same huse at the same address for 38 years. No street parking since the fog lines were directed to be bike lanes 37 years ago. Never missed them. Only difficulty was during garage sales. customers had to park around corner or in visitor (Restaurant) parking across the street. This is also an ODOT highway 10.

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    • lop August 6, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      Sounds like a massive giveaway to a generally wealthy group. How is that equitable?

      The city should hold auctions for permits to set a monthly fee. They should be valid for a set period of time (1,3, and 5 years?). And tied to a specific car and resident. Anybody should be allowed to take part in this market. Exceptions can be made for the disabled if the market price would be a financial hardship, and can demonstrate a lack of assets and income. For a premium businesses should be able to reserve specific spots. For example, a pizza place that wants a spot with a ten minute limit for people to pick up a pie, or for the delivery driver to have a reliable place to stop. If you get a new car, registered in the same name, you can transfer the permit to that car. If you sell your car or move, the permit is listed for auction to be held by the city within 30 days. The parking lessee would be responsible for paying the price they agreed to pay when they bought the permit. If the market price for parking declines and the permit is auctioned for less than they paid they will owe the difference.

      An equitable compromise would be to assist existing residents in the transition phase. For five years any existing resident, in either the residential or mixed use zones, can acquire a parking permit for a nominal fee to cover the cost of running the program. The permit is still tied to a specific car and address, they cannot sell it. There is no reason to give away a valuable asset to any residents in the area, especially the ones in homes worth upwards of 500k. The city will at the same time ease the permitting process to allow the construction and marketing of off street spaces – if you have a garage that you use as a storage space that you don’t really need you can rent out the spot to anybody who wants it. If you use it to store your bikes and the city gives you a headache when you try to build a small storage shed just for bikes because it isn’t large enough for a car they’ll get off your back. Any stores that have a parking lot their customers don’t fully utilize can rent out their spots, something they often aren’t allowed to do today.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 2:54 pm

        Why should only businesses be able to reserve a specific spot? Auction each spot individually, and let the market decide the price. Spots with no bidders would be free to anyone. Limit the number of spots you can buy to some fraction of household size. Spend the money to fix streets and build bike facilities.

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        • lop August 6, 2015 at 5:07 pm

          On average you’ll get more cars to park on a block if you don’t sell individual spots but instead allow parking on any of a few block face. Guaranteeing access to a single spot is more valuable to a business than a resident, but I’d have no objection to a resident paying the guaranteed spot premium as long as it doesn’t require the city to pay for enforcement.

          If there would be lots of spots with no bidders then nobody would be complaining about parking today.

          It would be wrong to dedicate this revenue to bike projects in all cases. It’s more appropriately split between the general fund (30-70%?) and on amenities for the local community (70-30%?) the money is extracted from. In some cases that may be bike projects. In others it’ll be parks. Or schools. Or etc…

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 7, 2015 at 8:28 am

          Actually, if people had dedicated spots, there would be less wasteful circling the block looking for a spot. Knowing where your spot was would create a safer environment for cyclists. If people are paying for permits, you can’t sell more permits than spaces, because if one paid, and I can’t park, I’ve got a legit complaint.

          Dedicated spots would be better for everyone.

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          • davemess August 7, 2015 at 11:53 am

            Except it would completely eliminate short term/guest spots. You’re essentially making the single family homes into condos/apartments regarding parking (something I think a lot of people wanted to avoid when buying/renting a house).

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty August 7, 2015 at 6:04 pm

              Sell 10% fewer permits than there are available spots to accommodate guests, and allocate one or two spots on each block for guests on a first-come first-served basis.

              If the proposal is to sell x number of permits to park in a certain area, it seems you can’t escape the issue of reserving a certain number for guests whether or not spots are assigned to particular people. You still need to ensure that everyone who has paid to park has a place. If spots are reserved, you know where you need to go, rather than circling around looking for a place… which doesn’t seem much different than the situation we are trying to improve on.

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    • JeffS August 6, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      Last time this came up, I too thought that permits should stay with the property, and more specifically the lot, instead of the resident. A person renting a single family house should have the same access as the owner of the same property. Split a lot, add an ADU, convert three houses to six condos, you don’t automatically get double the permits.

      What’s the logic for people with a driveway not getting a permit? Are we counting the curb cut as a parking space? If so, I guess I’m ok with that. What happens if I were to remove my one-car driveway, as some houses have already done? On one hand, I can see that a curb cut removes a space, but at the same time, I’m not thrilled about restricting access to a public resource because someone has actually paid for their parking spot (by putting a driveway on their private property).

      I’m not a fan of on-street parking at all, so I have no interest in defending it. If it’s going to be parking though, I keep getting drawn back to the idea that it’s public space, owned by all of us – not the first one here, or the ones with the largest corner lots.

      I would like to see each proposal accompanied by a clear statement defining the purpose of the legislation and the specific problem that we’re trying to solve. I feel like we’re talking out of both sides of our mouth. One department approves the new condo, or the lot split, and the next department wants to penalize people for buying the resulting buildings.

      Finally… i would love to have heard how many motor vehicles are owned by each member of the committee.

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      • Alex Reed August 7, 2015 at 9:18 am

        Yup, the logic is that a curb cut takes away a parking space.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu August 6, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      So the person who moved yesterday into the oldest house on the street gets priority over the old lady who has lived in her house longer than anyone in the neighborhood?. Makes no sense.

      I doubt there is any correlation between age of house and how long the current resident has been there.

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      • Alex Reed August 6, 2015 at 3:25 pm

        But is there an affordable way of verifying length of residency? I can’t think of one…. Tax return address maybe?

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    • oliver August 6, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      Thank you Alex.

      I agree. I’ve said before that people who occupy dwellings with off-street parking should go to the back of the line in the permitting process, regardless of income or “incumbency”.

      If you don’t own a place to park your car you have no room to complain about not having a place to park it. If you do, then you doubly have no room to complain not being provided with a place to store it in the public right of way.

      I store my car in my garage, on property for which I pay property taxes. There are folks in my neighborhood who have torn out their driveway, planted trees and put a fence across it in order to create a nicer yard. They store their car(s) in the street. The yard looks great, but I certainly have no interest in hearing from them about lack of parking.

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      • JeffS August 7, 2015 at 6:23 am

        Back of the line behind whom? Certainly not the apartment dwellers, who also bought properties without a driveway.

        Every instance of “back of the line” reasoning I’ve heard has been one person, or group of people declaring their own disapproval over someone else’s choices. This is why I really feel we should clearly define what problem we are trying to solve before doing anything. Currently we have people disapproving of:
        – parking minimums
        – parking maximums
        – no parking
        – too much parking
        – split lots
        – condos
        – all cars
        – that rusty truck that never moves
        – not having driveways
        – etc

        No personal stake in it myself. Were it up to me, there would be no on-street parking in residential zones and pedestrians and cyclists would be safer as a result.

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  • davemess August 6, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Michael, how was this SAC formed?
    I thought I remember a few emails and mention on this site about people volunteering for it. Is this an issue of renters or non-residential residents just not volunteering? Or did the city have a strong hand in picking this committee?

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) August 6, 2015 at 12:32 pm

      Good question. Maybe some SAC members could let us know? I know there was an application process, and I assume much of the outreach was conducted through neighborhood associations. Wouldn’t be surprised if the city also hit up development and planning organizations and local nonprofits with related missions. I believe some members are there to represent constituencies that they are not themselves part of.

      I don’t think the demographic shortcomings shown in the last few charts here are deliberate on the city’s part — just a failure to overcome structural barriers, as usual.

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      • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 2:07 pm

        I can only speak for myself in that I worked hard on filling out a lengthy application and cited my knowledge and interest in the particular issue as well as my previous civic advocacy and volunteering. I suspect I overachieved on that application as I was also selected to be the sole Citizen at Large on the Central City Parking Policy Reform SAC.

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      • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 2:07 pm

        Some organizations, it would seem, were asked so send representatives (Oregon Walks, etc).

        I think it’s completely valid to point out the committee demographics, the city certainly could have done better to encourage a more diverse socio-economic cross section (especially from the neighborhoods that have more diversity than the average neighborhood). I don’t know that race really should matter much in the parking discussion. Economic standing, sure, but Michael didn’t ask who was in X percentile of the average income.

        It’s also worth pointing out that there are about a dozen committee members who were not there, although I am not sure many of the ratios would change.

        Finally, I think it’s very important to look at the makeup of our city council, which I would think is far more important to diversify further than any particular committee.

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        • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
          Michael Andersen (News Editor) August 6, 2015 at 2:14 pm

          Fair points, up to and including the last! I actually hadn’t been planning to ask about race but decided to at the last minute because I just thought it was weird that every single committee member seemed to be white. I agree that income would be useful to know, too.

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    • soren August 6, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      “Is this an issue of renters or non-residential residents just not volunteering?”

      speaking for myself, it’s more a matter of being discouraged by hostility towards new renters.

      i’m not necessarily opposed to a zoning-based parking policy but i think this proposal will serve to highlight the social injustice of residential-only zoning in this city. i’m also hoping that this policy will provoke enough of a backlash that renters will become more organized.

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      • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 1:57 pm

        Oh give me a break… if you are concerned about representing new renters you should have applied. I’ll also point out that other than Doug Klotz and maybe one other person… I didn’t see many of the concerned folks from the last post out there last night.

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        • Alex Reed August 6, 2015 at 2:29 pm

          Well, for one thing, the past article on BP didn’t mention this meeting, so that’s an obstacle to commenters on the past article attending. For another thing, I think it would be more effective to put more onus on the City to recruit SAC’s that actually represent the city’s population than to exhort Soren to have joined the committee.

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          • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 2:53 pm

            You’ll have to take that up with Michael. I posted a challenge to attend in comments. I also note that the PDF limped contains the agenda and time. I think we are all pretty capable folks here of finding out or asking for information.

            I know I’m defensive a little here, I guess, to echo me comments on the other post, I’m spending tons of energy to push for the best most progressive policy I can get through. This committee isn’t full of NIMBYs. There are many members who are concerned for and advocate for the ideas posted here. It’s impossible for Michael to post a full accounting of the committee proceedings.

            The main reason to not apply to a committee is that you’ll end up getting attacked from both ends of the spectrum because whatever comes out is going to be a compromise.

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            • soren August 6, 2015 at 9:53 pm

              Except for a few stretches of arterial my entire neighborhood is zoned residential. The status quo is NIMBY. This policy takes advantage of the status quo to target new renters in the few narrow plots where their homes can be built.

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        • soren August 6, 2015 at 3:25 pm

          I’ll also point out that other than Doug Klotz and maybe one other person… I didn’t see many of the concerned folks from the last post out there last night.

          When and where was this meeting? I see no evidence of this meeting advertised here:
          or in the BikePortland article.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 2:36 pm

        If developers build enough parking to satisfy the demands of their tenants, all your zone-based social justice concerns melt away.

        It’s not as if the people moving into these new apartments are gentrification-refugees pushed out of the neighboring zones, moving into affordable housing in the commercial district.

        It’s not as if developer are offering lower rents to people who live in buildings with no parking.

        These are expensive units, inhabited by a privileged group of people that can afford the high rent. This is not a social justice issue.

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        • Chris I August 6, 2015 at 2:52 pm

          See the example used in this article. Developers do build parking, but people choose to not pay for it, and park on the street instead. The street spots have an economic value. If the city keeps giving them away for free, there will be excess demand.

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  • Matt August 6, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    I’ve always thought that when living off a popular street like Alberta or Division, yes, it’s difficult to find parking directly in front of your home, but the benefit is that your home is in a very desirable place and property is significantly more valuable because of the popularity of the street. That said, how does the city regulate the parking for both home owners/renters and people driving in to utilize the services? Is it a privilege to be able to directly park in front of where you live when Portland in such a densely populated area. Maybe we all should be a little more comfortable having to park around the block and walk to our residence. Sure, place wheelchair and disabled parking where appropriate.


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  • RH August 6, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    This whole permit thing is wacky. Homeowners realize that someone else’s permitted car could still park in front of their house, right…which would stop all their friends from visiting them and their disabled parents from coming to Thanksgiving….

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) August 6, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      The city says that people in parking districts could almost certainly buy one-day passes in packs of 10 or so, for use on Thanksgiving and so forth.

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  • Adam H. August 6, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    The city’s idea is that such a system would lead developers of buildings on commercial corridors to include more on-site auto parking in their new buildings

    This is exactly the thing that we don’t want to encourage. I expressed concerns about this in the last article – without parking maximums, developers will just build more car parking, inducing more car trips.

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  • MaxD August 6, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    If a building was built before the parking permit system is enacted, the residents should be offered parking permits that same as their neighbors, regardless of zoning. If the intention of the permit system is to social engineer developers into building parking, then future buildings would have to negotiate (with NA? City? ) for parking permits. No is being forced to pay for these permits, only the people that want to parka car on the street for more than a couple of hours.

    That said, I do have a problem with not requiring parking for buildings on commercial corridors based on proximity to transit when the transit is so super poor quality! We need much greater frequency, longer operating hours, expanded rail network, dedicated bus lanes, etc for a transit system that people will choose (rather than be forced on to). Improve transit, restrict parking, support densification and and support biking and walking options.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      We can (and usually do) require developers to build parking for their buildings. Here the objective is to find a way to let them not do so, but not have their buildings occupied by people who have cars and park in the nearby residential zones.

      If you support parking-free buildings, you really should support them being filled with car-free tenants.

      This proposal is an attempt to make that happen.

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      • Doug Klotz August 6, 2015 at 2:02 pm

        Not in Portland. Buildings downtown have, since 1981, been forbidden from building too much parking, but not required to build any. Also since 1981, buildings in CS zones (Storefront commercial, like on Hawthorne, Belmont, NW 23rd and 21st, etc. have not been required to have parking. And since 2006, buildings (commercial or residential) within 500′ of Frequent Service Transit Street, have not been required to have any parking. Only in 2013 did council put in requirements for buildings with more than 30 units to have some parking.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 2:38 pm

          But overall, those are a minority of new residential buildings built.

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          • Doug Klotz August 7, 2015 at 8:07 pm

            The majority of new multifamily buildings being built in Southeast, anyway, are being built in Commercial Zones. You can put three times as many apartments per average lot as you can in R-1 residential, e.g.

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  • 9watts August 6, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    “We haven’t addressed the root of the problem, which is apartment buildings with no parking,” (Gail Hoffnagle)

    THAT is the root of the problem?! Really?

    This is all very interesting and I appreciate both the committees looking at this and Michael for these detailed writeups. What I’d like to hear a little bit about is the dynamic aspect of this. 95% of the comments are about what will happen next month if this proposal is implemented. But I want to know if anyone on the committee or at PBOT is thinking about what will happen when cars cease to be the default mode for the majority of our fellow Portlanders? Is this parking permit plan appreciated as a short term fix? Because to me it seems like it. It reminds me a little of the nibbling away at the cars-only lane miles to establish a few pokey bike lanes…. One of these days we’re all going to be biking, so to speak, and then this whole conversation will look very different. Is anyone thinking about this, discussing the probabilities?

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    • Adam Herstein August 6, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      I got a kick out of that quote too. No no, it’s not that too many people are driving or anything, it’s those lousy developers not building enough parking!

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      • 9watts August 6, 2015 at 1:30 pm

        If we’re going to focus on apartment buildings, lets keep in mind that we have perhaps an order of magnitude more carfree renter households in Multnomah Co. than we have apartments without offstreet parking. The challenge (viewed in this rather narrow fashion) would then be to do a better job of matching up the two. Or at least investigating why the carfree renters haven’t moved into these apartments. We all have hunches I’m sure, but it would be worth investigating.

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      • BikeSlobPDX August 6, 2015 at 3:12 pm

        There are two different problems. I live in inner southeast; my primary modes of transportation are bike+walk+bus+MAX. I also own a car. So when it’s parked at my residence, I’m not driving, and it’s not contributing to traffic congestion. But it would be contributing to street congestion if it were not in my garage.

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    • paikiala August 6, 2015 at 1:27 pm

      Plan for 100 years from now?

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      • Adam Herstein August 6, 2015 at 1:29 pm

        Improve transit, biking, and walking; while reducing space for cars. It’s the only way cities can work post-peak-oil.

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      • 9watts August 6, 2015 at 1:35 pm

        “Plan for 100 years from now?”

        You’re kidding right?
        You think it will be a century before automobiles dry up and blow away?

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        • paikiala August 6, 2015 at 4:27 pm

          The fuel source will change – EV, and numbers will reduce – Sharing, but I don’t see an end to private capsules that people move about a city in that they do not have to exert physical effort for in order to move.
          I can see half the current private capsules in 100 years, but ‘dry up and blow away’, as in a desert? no.

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          • 9watts August 6, 2015 at 5:16 pm

            I predict we’ll both live long enough to see how this turns out.

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      • 9watts August 6, 2015 at 1:45 pm
    • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      Well, I suspect you know me 😉 and I assure you I have brought this up.

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      • 9watts August 6, 2015 at 1:45 pm

        How did others react? Or was their response like paikiala’s?

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      She’s half right… the root of the problem is apartment buildings with no parking being occupied by tenants with cars.

      If the tenants had no cars (and thus no need for parking), the issue would be moot.

      So either 1) Provide parking for your tenants, or 2) Rent to tenants who don’t have cars.

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      • 9watts August 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm

        “So either 1) Provide parking for your tenants, or 2) Rent to tenants who don’t have cars.”

        But, see, this is a static analysis. It doesn’t take account of the possibility—the likelihood if this is done right—of a policy incentivizing, encouraging, nudging, people to jettison their cars. We don’t know how many hundreds or thousands of Portland households are poised to ditch their cars right now (because we haven’t thought to ask), and perhaps this is just the nudge they need. This (too many cars problem) could all be taken care of preemptively. Who knows?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 2:40 pm

          Agreed… that would be the #2 option here, made possible by implementing plans like the one proposed.

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      • Chris I August 6, 2015 at 2:55 pm

        What about houses without driveways? Your solution would be to forbid people from buying a house without parking?

        And what about people that have garages but choose to fill them with crap and park their cars on the street?

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        • oliver August 6, 2015 at 9:54 pm

          Utilize the Tokyo model, where registration of a motor vehicle is incumbent upon documented proof that you have a place to store it.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty August 7, 2015 at 10:34 am

            Tokyo is a dramatically different city from Portland, and we definitely do not want to follow their model. They have a lot of cyclists, sure, but it is also a miserable place to ride a bike.

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    • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      Trying this again… something seems messed up with the comments. I can assure you I’ve brought up the desire to prevent overbuilding parking. I hear Adam’s concern about inducing parking over the limits and I really doubt this permitting system will actually encourage lots of new parking to be built. There’s already plenty of buildings that voluntarily put in more parking than required and they’ll continue to do so.

      I think we can hope that walking down the paths of permits will enable a more efficient use of the parking available in these neighborhoods and, primarily, diffuse arguments against more housing based on parking fears.

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      • Adam H. August 6, 2015 at 4:13 pm

        There’s already plenty of buildings that voluntarily put in more parking than required and they’ll continue to do so.

        But this is the problem. We shouldn’t allow the developers to build too much parking. There should be parking maximums for new commercial/residential developments.

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        • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 4:29 pm

          There are effectively maximums due to economics. Of the developments I know of I’d only say two really built too much parking. One is the new building off of Broadway that is affordable housing but has a 1-1 ratio. The other is the senior cooperative replacing good food here.

          Any parking maximum likely to pass would most likely allow at least a 1-1 ratio and we really don’t see more than that being built nowadays.

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    • Tom Hardy August 6, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Apartment buildings without parking were built that way for clients that did not need automobiles. They rented them on the grounds that they used Public transportation of walking or bicycles. Now they think they deserve free parking? If so they need to move to where parking is available.

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      • MaxD August 6, 2015 at 2:49 pm

        How is that different from people who bought a house i na neighborhood and expect free parking on the street in perpetuity?

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      • Chris I August 6, 2015 at 3:02 pm

        Just like people that own houses without driveways, or houses with garages that are full of stuff.

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    • RM Hampel August 6, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      No, not everyone will be biking.
      Will people PLEASE stop praying for cars to go away. Automobiles are not going to go away. Cars and trucks are not evil. The people who drive them are not evil or misguided any more than cyclists and rail commuters are godlike and correct. In many parts of this town, the automobile is THE ONLY practical mode of transportation. Even in close-in denser neighborhoods, members of the same household (apartment of detached home) may have distant jobs not practically accessible by any means other than a private vehicle.

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      • Brad August 6, 2015 at 10:44 pm

        And there are tons of people who will get in their car and drive one mile to their office because they’re lazy.

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      • Eric Leifsdad August 7, 2015 at 1:45 am

        How far is “distant”? Ten miles each way? How much does that number change when you pay for parking on both ends or at least $5/gal for gasoline? How about a long drive to the gym, to park very high in the parking garage, then a long ride down the elevator to get on the stair machine?

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        • RM Hampel August 7, 2015 at 9:23 am

          Eric (and Brad) I agree with you both. I’m one of those people who “get it”. But even I can only do my 6-mile bike commute 2 days out of 7. That’s because my schedule on those other days means I’ll be in two different locations (morning at ~11 miles away from home) and afternoon (7 miles from the morning location). Plus the fact that there are no shower facilities at my work and that I must dress professionally at my job. So, both cycling and public transport (takes way too long) are out of the question on those days. I really wish I could ride more, but the logistics make that impossible. I doubt I’m alone in this predicament. Many others simply cannot make a simple bike commute to work. For us, the evil automobile is a necessity. And believe me, I’d much rather cycle to work.

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          • davemess August 7, 2015 at 11:58 am

            Throw kids into the mix and it gets a lot more difficult too.

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            • TonyJ August 7, 2015 at 1:07 pm

              That really depends on the choices you’ve made to set up your life and many of them ARE choices. I reject the concept that having children requires having a car. I have two (4 and 8) and haven’t owned a car for 6 years.

              There are choices we make, to use the neighborhood school, for example. To not attend multiple birthday parties in one day (and that’s a benefit). To really think hard about the level of competitive athletics our kids should be in. We chose to balance some of the things we’re missing out on with the benefits we gain. My kids are really healthy, the 4 year old can walk or ride for miles. My kids are really street smart. My kids know the neighbors.

              I understand completely that there is much privilege in my decisions. I have the ability to even make these choices for my family vs. having car free (or car dependent) life foisted upon me. Nevertheless, there are hundreds of thousands of us in this city who DO have the agency to make these decisions. Just because someone has voluntarily set up their life to be car dependent does not mean it had to be that way.

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              • davemess August 8, 2015 at 9:02 am

                Sure, but it is incredibly naive to believe that your life style fits for everyone else (even the people who share your level of privilege).

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              • TonyJ August 8, 2015 at 1:04 pm

                Of course that would be incredibly naive. I’ve never actually met anyone who would say that there’s a one size fits all lifestyle.

                People make many choices and some limit the things that they can do. I choose to live without a car and that limits the things I can do. Someone else may choose a job or a hobby or a neighborhood that limits the other choices they can make. The difference is that my choice to live without a car is a net societal benefit and the sacrifices are all borne by me and my family. The family that chooses the car dependent lifestyle foists many of the effects of their choice onto me and the rest of society.

                I know that not all families make a choice. I hear at almost every meeting I attend “not everyone can ride a bike.” I rarely hear about the 1/3 of Oregonians who aren’t licensed to drive or the additional persons who can’t drive for other reasons. I hear a lot about how hard it is for moms (and it’s always moms) with cars to park far away from home, but little concern is ever expressed for parents who live in east Portland who can’t afford a car or a close-in apartment and have to walk or ride on substandard streets several blocks from the bus stop.

                I think it’s time to stop pretending that car free living (especially in close-in hoods) is some sort of feat of strength. It’s not for everyone, but it can be for most. It’s not hard, but it could be easier. I want to create more opportunities for more people to have the option to drive less or barely at all. The best way I know to do that is to advocate for more density, less cars, and less subsidizing of car dependent life styles.

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          • Eric Leifsdad August 7, 2015 at 9:48 pm

            Tried electric assist? No sweating the hills, traffic, parking. Professional dress on a rainy day might take some wool and a rain cape. I’m looking forward to seeing more electric velomobiles, but the recumbent trike format is a hard sell with our current traffic and infrastructure.

            Of course, if you’re covering those 7 midday miles door-to-door in 30 minutes, it’s hard for an e-bike to be a compelling alternative. Still, we might start to consider 600lb instead of 3000lb conveyances. http://www.rahtmobile.com

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        • Chris Anderson August 7, 2015 at 9:30 am

          Gyms aren’t for exercise they’re for meeting people / getting inspired to exercise.

          My take on this is that parking is emotional and irrational so we just better do what we can and what is coming around looks not horrible. Thanks Tony et. al!

          As far as changing lifestyles, the answer isn’t guilt, it’s Beyoncé. As in make it fun and appealing to give active transport a shot. ODOT knows this, that’s why they like to keep it crappy and stressful.

          When people experience first hand the real improvements in everyday living you get from ditching your car commute, they will start to push harder for it. Maybe take a job closer to home next time, or move if that makes sense. Or look into the work-from-home policy and use one day a week to bike the kids to school and back.

          I hope we can close the case on parking quickly, even if it isn’t perfect. There will be a dramatic change after the policy is implemented, and it will look like lots of empty spaces, because all the cars people weren’t using but never got around to selling get sold.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty August 7, 2015 at 10:40 am

            Two unrelated comments: first, we can look to NW to see what might happen with permit parking. Not a lot of empty spots there. Second, I totally agree with your comment about Beyonce, except that if she becomes the spokesperson for active transportation, I’ll give up riding. Please, lord, anyone but her!

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  • bjorn August 6, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Another problem that is going to come out of this haves and have nots situation is going to be some serious arbitrage coming. If you live in a house just off a commercial street you could easily buy extra permits below market value and then rent them to residents in the apartment buildings turning a tidy profit, meaning that I would expect no one who lives in an apartment will ever be able to buy a permit directly from the city.

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    • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      The current proposal ties the permit to a particular vehicle.

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      • bjorn August 6, 2015 at 2:01 pm

        I think the arbitrage will still be pretty heavy if the price of the on street permit for a year is less than what it will probably cost for a month of garage parking. The permit has to be closer to a market rate or people will be out making money on the difference. Much better to have those funds go to the city to help pay for the backlog of maintenance rather than getting siphoned off by middlemen.

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        • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 2:11 pm

          I agree. I think the rate should be about 10X what it currently is. If a good chunk stays in the ‘hood then I think $50 a month is not unreasonable at all.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      This plan brought to you by https://www.justpark.com !

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  • soren August 6, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Of the 18, 15 said they were homeowners.

    did any of the SAC members live in shared housing or apartments?

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) August 6, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      I only asked about tenancy. I would assume at least a few have housemates or something like that.

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      • soren August 6, 2015 at 10:01 pm

        someone who can afford to rent a home is often not perceived to be in the same socioeconomic class as someone who rents a room or apartment.

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  • Jeff August 6, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    I recommend that any homeowner who can install a driveway, but doesn’t already have one already, do so soon. Curb cut permits are a bargain and guarantee parking for life.

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  • MaxD August 6, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Parking permits are good thing and should be implemented across the CIty with meters added on commercial streets.

    This proposal includes the provision to no allow renters to buy a permit. This provision reeks of reactionary NIMBYism and enshrines classist viewpoints. Public streets

    If the goal is to force developers to build parking, then create development guidelines. This provision is nothing more than people trying to protect their private use of public space as cheaply as possible for them, and excluding as many new people as possible.

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    • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      It does no such thing. Renters don’t all live in commercial zones (most don’t) and owners don’t all live in residential zones (most do).

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      • MaxD August 6, 2015 at 2:59 pm

        That is a fair point, but also fairly arbritrary. What is the justification (if not NIMBY-ism) for excluding the people who clearly live in a neighborhood from being able to participate in the neighborhood parking permit system?

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        • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 3:19 pm

          Well, honestly, it’s political. I mean, this has to pass the SAC and then it has to pass council. I would be fine with and would prefer a system that didn’t exclude the corridors, but I more prefer having ANY system that puts us on a proper path here. I think there will be options for the corridor residents who continue to own cars and I don’t think it’s a terrible thing if you pay a little more to store a car for the benefit of living directly on a commercial corridor.

          Additionally, living in a commercial zone confers additional flexibility on a resident in those zones, the ability to conduct commercial activity, for instance. Zoning has a checkered past, but it’s very common to restrict certain activities to certain zones.

          The goal here is to make it so that more housing can be built with less complaints so that we have more units (and hopefully more affordable units) in areas where you don’t NEED a car. That’s the prize and I’m keeping my eye on it.

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          • MaxD August 6, 2015 at 5:03 pm

            thanks for your thoughtful reply. You and I largely share the same goal, but I am having a hard time swallowing the compromise. I think is it is to Portland’s great detriment that most apartments are restricted to being built above commercial corridors. I wish more small apartments/row-houses could be integrated into our great neighborhoods and enjoy the trees and quiet streets that single family homes have. I do not see many benefits to living above a commercial street compared to living a couple blocks from one (I have done both, BTW). I still maintain that is exclusion serves entrenched NIMBY attitudes towards growth and becoming more dense. This proposal may be the best compromise we can achieve right now, politically, but it still seems like it screws over a lot of Portland residents to maintain a subsidized luxury for the people with the very best possible living situation. All that said, I believe that you are A LOT more informed about this issue and are actually working hard toward a noble goal, and I appreciate and thank you for it. Thanks for hearing my opinions.

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            • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 7:36 pm

              I agree that it would be great to have more multi-family mixed in. There is an effort to allow for more “infill” density, too. That’s a residential zoning issue though, not in the same wheelhouse as this one.

              I understand this is going to inconvenience some apartment and condo dwellers insofar as making it more expensive or harder to store their cars. I have to admit I think that is a reasonable price to pay for more housing.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 7, 2015 at 9:58 am

                It’s certainly a reasonable price to pay to live in an apartment that is billed as “car free”.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      Renters would be free to buy permits. It’s people living in commercial zones, whether renters or owners, that would be restricted. People renting in residential zones would face no such restrictions.

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      • Alex Reed August 6, 2015 at 2:53 pm

        And, it just so happens that the majority of the people in commercial zones are renters / multifamily residents and the overwhelming majority of the people in residential zones are owners / single-family residents. Hmmm….

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        • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 2:59 pm

          I’m not sure it’s correct what you are saying. There are many apartments in residential zones and there are many renters who live in detached or duplex housing. The majority in commercial zones are renters, that’s true.

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          • Alex Reed August 6, 2015 at 3:22 pm

            Well, let’s start with the fact that sixty-two percent of the housing units in Portland are single-family homes.


            Then once you take out the commercial zones, and their housing units (which are overwhelmingly multifamily), that leaves some percentage over 60% (70%? 80%? I dunno) of residential-zoned housing units that are single-family.

            Also, there are more people per unit in the single-family units than the multi-family ones, so that would further sway the balance toward single-family in the residential zones.

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            • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 3:39 pm

              but again… single family resident does not mean homeowner. Many many people rent houses in Portland.

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              • lop August 6, 2015 at 5:24 pm

                From 2009-2013 ACS table B25032:

                ~86% of homeowners in Portland are in a detached single family home.

                ~24% of renter households in Portland are in a detached single family home.

                ~80% of detached single family houses are owner occupied.

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          • Alex Reed August 6, 2015 at 3:26 pm

            But you’re right, 70-80% is maybe not “overwhelming.” But still, there are distinct class impacts to this proposal, and they’re not in the pro-equity direction.

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            • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 3:37 pm

              If we’re talking equity I think it’s also important to recognize that we need more housing options that are available to car-lite and car-free households. The amount of housing available that does NOT bundle car ownership in some way is likely (as 9watts points out elsewhere) much smaller than the number of households that don’t own cars.

              I want the person who lives out east without a car (or reluctantly owns one) to have the ability to live close in without a car. That’s the equity I am striving for.

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              • lop August 6, 2015 at 5:27 pm

                Are you sure? ~15% of households in Portland don’t have a car. There are a lot of apartments and some houses in the city that don’t have an off street parking spot bundled with rent, many don’t have one at all.

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              • paul g. August 6, 2015 at 8:02 pm

                Tony there is another way to think about this. Free yourself from central city centered thinking.

                If we could spark the development of high quality jobs in areas such as Gateway, it would help our traffic problems and allow more people to live the way you want.

                Take a look at the Eastside Industrial Sanctuary as a shining example. Why is it there? Why is it important to have working class jobs in a prime retail location and far away from where anyone with working class jobs can afford to live?

                Instead of trying to maintain fictions like affordable housing along Division, we should work toward a city where people can live close to where they work, and that means moving WHERE THEY WORK.

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              • TonyJ August 6, 2015 at 9:00 pm

                There’s more to living close-in and having the options to do so than living near where you work and we all know that Gateway is a long way from having the same levels of services, entertainment, and just plain pleasantness that our close-in hoods have.

                I’m not saying we don’t try to continue to develop other centers, but I don’t buy the idea that we should pull up the drawbridge and direct everyone to Gateway… seems mighty protectionist to me.

                Affordable housing doesn’t have to be a fiction. The city can do much more than point fingers at the legislature for inclusionary zoning bills. The city can incentivize affordable units TODAY. The city can build affordable housing TODAY. I’m not saying cheap rents for all are coming back in these neighborhoods, but I’m not giving up on an idea that is completely plausible so that entrenched neighbors can hold on to the fiction that they live in a small town instead of a growing city.

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              • Doug Klotz August 6, 2015 at 9:02 pm

                I have a working class job in the Central Eastside, and I live near 36th and Hawthorne.

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              • davemess August 6, 2015 at 9:38 pm

                But Doug, would someone today be able to live near where you do on a working class salary (I don’t even know what that is anymore), let alone buy a house?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 7, 2015 at 10:47 am

                Probably not, in part because we let developers tear down the cheapest houses and build large, high priced houses in their place.

                That said, housing is still cheaper in Portland than in comparable cities such as Seattle. But it is waaaaaaay more expensive than it used to be.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 3:21 pm

          At the moment, there may be more renters than owners in commercial zones (or maybe not), but over time, it is likely that some of the current rental buildings will transform to condos. In 10 years, we could be arguing about why the city discriminates against property owners in commercial districts in the allocation of parking permits.

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  • MaxD August 6, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    just came across this in an article:

    there’s an often-overlooked reason that’s also exacerbating the affordability problem: cars—or, specifically, the cost associated with parking them.

    and this

    The reason the parking requirements exist is the neighbors demand it,” said Durning. “It’s entirely political. There’s no economic justification or urban planning justification of parking.


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    • rachel b August 6, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      Great article, MaxD–thanks for the link. I was especially interested in the part about parking benefit districts—City charges for on-street parking, gives money back to the neighborhood.

      From the article: (Alan Durning, Executive Director, Sightline Inst.)
      “The magic of that is it breaks apart the local political coalition…In some California cities, they have parking improvement districts in urban areas, revenue comes back to the community council, and they can use it for whatever they want. Those people then stop arguing, they stop pushing for off-street parking. It’s in their interest to have scarce off-street parking because then they make more money. Then we can cut the Gordian knot of parking politics.”

      Sounds like only Pasadena has just handed it all over (generous!). Other cities are simply sharing the wealth.

      I greatly look forward to the day we ditch cars in Portland central, almost entirely: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3040634/7-cities-that-are-starting-to-go-car-free

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      • rachel b August 6, 2015 at 3:32 pm

        Doh! And I just remembered Michael covered that very issue here. I do hope City of Portland looks to Pasadena for inspiration. 🙂

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 3:59 pm

        Passing money back to the neighborhoods that generate it will further increase disparities between rich and poor neighborhoods. Affluent areas would be more willing to tax themselves to get better services locally; poorer ones would probably choose to live with more potholes in exchange for not paying parking fees.

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        • rachel b August 6, 2015 at 5:28 pm

          Hi, Hello! if we’re going to make people pay for parking on the street in these popular and consequently now-affluent areas (and it sounds like it’s a plan, tho I echo Anne H in reminding you that the Mr. & Mrs. Gotrocks have not yet driven out the original blue-collar residents of these neighborhoods), and if giving some of the money back to the neighborhoods facilitates better relations amongst all AND discourages the building of more parking lots/structures, I’m all for it.

          I think the onus is on the City to take better care of the outer, less affluent neighborhoods by firmly and regularly allocating more $$ in the general budget toward them and away from downtown and inner neighborhoods which have gotten the lion’s share at the expense of the east-of-82nders. I grew up way east of 82nd in (at that time) unincorporated Portland. I get your point.

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  • Chris I August 6, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Instead of creating classes for different citizens, why don’t we just auction the limited parking passes off to the highest bidder? Street parking has an economic value, so why not charge the market rate?

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      Yes! Just let us bid on particular spaces. The one in front of my residence is worth far more (to me) than the one around the block. Let me pay more for it!

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  • Jim Labbe August 6, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    “I don’t necessarily support punitive fees for car ownership, but I would love it if we would simply remove all the subsidies that society has for car ownership today,” said Chris Smith.

    I agree. One other overlooked subsidy is how we pay to clean up the urban stormwater pollution that mostly comes from motor vehicles. The worst of the heavy medals and hydrocarbons in our stormwater comes form motorized vehicles. And 60 to 70 % of Portland stormwater volume is attributable to paved streets and runoff directed to the public right of way.

    We pay to clean up this pollution not with vehicle fees but with residential and commercial stormwater fees paid by businesses, renters, and homeowners including those that are car-free.

    Since the worst urban stormwater pollution comes from driving motor vehicles why not give a stormwater fee discount to people who don’t own a car?

    Off topic I know but this is a proposal the City could actually implement. We already have a stormwater discount for people who manage their stormwater on-site. Why not also provide a discount that don’t create it in the public right-of-way?


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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      I’m willing to bet good money that the majority of such pollution comes from trucks and other heavy vehicles that burn diesel and have, until recently, had a very low standard for pollution control.

      If I am right, discounts should apply to everyone who doesn’t drive a truck, or perhaps to everyone who doesn’t consume products delivered by truck.

      If I am wrong (or heck, even if I’m right), then we need to clean up our fuel so it contains less heavy metal in the first place.

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  • oregon111 August 6, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    bicycles need to pay a mileage tax to be able to use the roads

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    • Karl Dickman August 6, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      I paid $20,000 in taxes last year. I get to use all the roads I want.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 6, 2015 at 5:54 pm

      I would gladly pay a mileage tax for all my vehicles, including bicycles, if it were proportional to the damage they do to the roadway.

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      • Jim Labbe
        Jim Labbe August 6, 2015 at 8:10 pm

        …and in proportional to air and water pollution.

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    • Chris I August 6, 2015 at 6:55 pm


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      • Doug Klotz August 6, 2015 at 9:00 pm

        Because that’s a cost to all us residents of the earth.

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    • oliver August 6, 2015 at 9:50 pm

      As soon as the state starts paying into a fund for blocking the public right of way with infrastructure that the public can not use without financing and registering an automobile.

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    • Rob Chapman August 6, 2015 at 11:17 pm

      Explain yourself.

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      • Oliver August 7, 2015 at 11:00 am

        Ha, yeah that’s pretty cryptic on second read. It was in direct response to this: “bicycles need to pay a mileage tax to be able to use the roads”

        I have this idea that filling the public right of way with roads for the luxury of getting around by private automobile and commerce, ought to come with a cost, or rent; due to the ‘public’ for the use of that space. That money can then be used to pay for the adjacent infrastructure for those people who would be otherwise coerced into purchasing a private automobile of their own.

        I have no intention of paying a sixth time (after property tax, income tax, motor vehicle registration fees, gas taxes) to use the roads.

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  • Mark August 6, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Some apartment buildings are limited to people with certain incomes. Can an apartment building require tenants to not have cars? It would be a winning situation for just about everyone and there seems to be a demand for it.

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  • Terry D-M August 6, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    I now know you all, and the take over of self driving robot cars will be the key. 100 years is too far to plan…..what did people think life would be like now in 1915? We can plan for 30……and I predict surface street car traffic will be halfed…..and I pulled that I never out from….

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    • Chris Anderson August 7, 2015 at 9:40 am

      If you want to get a brain dump on why Terry is right, and what else you should expect over the next couple of decades, this is an excellent resource to learn to think like an innovator: http://breakingsmart.com/season-1/

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      • Anne Hawley August 7, 2015 at 3:40 pm

        That’s a fantastic (LONG!) article, isn’t it? I spent most of Monday on and off reading it, and need to re-read it several times before I’ll have absorbed it, but it’s one of the most thought provoking things I’ve read in ages, and I highly recommend it.

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  • B. Carfree August 6, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    All motorists are equal, but some motorists are more equal than others.

    With apologies to George Orwell.

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  • Jim Labbe
    Jim Labbe August 6, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    This is quite excellent reporting, btw.

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  • Christopher Sanderson August 6, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    I find it troubling to see one business here in SE park four trucks and a trailer on the street, which occupies 5, maybe 6, spaces. People are complaining about the lack of parking, yet one business gets to gobble them all up, which means I am subsidizing that business’ parking spaces.

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    • Chris I August 7, 2015 at 9:11 am

      They wouldn’t be doing that if we started charging for street parking.

      And that brings up another sticky issue. This proposal does nothing to address on of the biggest parking problems in commercial areas: employees parking in the prime commercial spots. If you removed every employee vehicle from the street on E 28th street, you would be amazed at the amount of available parking.

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  • Doug Klotz August 6, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    On the contrary, at least for multi-family buildings. The great majority of new multifamily buildings are being built in the CS, CM or CG zone, because developers can build 30 or more units on a 10,000 sq ft lot, whereas the R-1 apartment zone, like in some spots on Hawthorne and Belmont,only allows 10 units on that same size 10,000 sq.ft. lot. What’s mostly getting built on the R-1 lots is rowhouses, or as at Belmont and 26th, single-family houses. Very few apartment buildings.

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  • Doug Klotz August 6, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    That was supposed to be a reply to Hello Kitty’s comment at 2:38 pm today, that apartments in commercial zones are the minority of new residential buildings. They are the majority of Multifamily.

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  • Brad August 6, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    Yay, let’s encourage developers to build more parking! Maybe we should require that each new building have 2 parking spots per unit! Then, we can add several lanes to all our roads to accommodate all the new cars! Then, we can demolish half of downtown for commuters to have more parking space! This discussion makes me sick. The city should charge $75 a month for parking on all city streets and it should be open for everyone to purchase. Apartment dwellers pay for those city streets just like the homeowners do. What they’re proposing is essentially to make “main street” dwellers pay twice.

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  • Alan Kessler August 7, 2015 at 10:37 am

    A perspective that I haven’t seen getting much attention:

    The city wanted the mixed-use development in the transit corridor to support transit over auto use. Currently, the free parking within a few blocks of these units is a big benefit to tenants who want to keep a car. This is reflected in the rent that the property managers can charge for those apartments.

    If we want to have car-free residents in these buildings, we need to either price the parking passes high enough to eliminate the subsidy (which is politically untenable… several SAC members pushed back on a mere $60/year) or we need to withhold parking passes.

    The beauty of eliminating the parking benefit to transit-oriented residences, is that it should decrease demand for those particular housing units (i.e. people who “need” to own a car just can’t live there), which should decrease the rents that can be charged. People who agree to the implicit deal won’t need to compete with wealthier car owners who just want to live in a fancy building.

    There’s a parking benefit baked in to the price of rents. Prohibiting transit-oriented buildings from buying permits will eliminate that benefit and decrease rents.

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    • soren August 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      if your argument held water then rents in areas with a high degree of parking scarcity for renters would be lower (e.g. NW portland) and this is clearly not the case.

      incredibly strong NIMBY restrictions on apartment construction in central portland neighborhoods are a primary contributor of high rents in portland. and, imo, if we want rents to moderate in central portland we need to open residential lots to at least some multi-unit development (like every other major city on the west coast). and lets not forget that inner and central pdx is dotted with small apartment buildings that have no associated parking. it’s time to move beyond the divisive and discriminatory policies of fearful 70s era homeowners. let’s open up the city to more diversity and affordability!

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      • soren August 7, 2015 at 1:01 pm

        contributor to

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      • TonyJ August 7, 2015 at 1:09 pm

        The situation in NW is not analogous. Residents in NW are entitled to a very cheap parking permit for hunting. We know that the tolerance for cruising for parking is very very high. Actually making it expensive and/or impossible to store your car nearby is a very very different thing.

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        • Alan Kessler August 7, 2015 at 2:30 pm

          Well said, Tony. I don’t think that enforcing car-free buildings is a sufficient condition to create affordable rent, but I do think it would advance that goal.

          I agree with Soren that another, more potent, tool is creating additional housing supply. These tools work well together. It would be best if a portion of the increased housing supply had enforced (by price or by exclusion from permits) low car-ownership rates so that parking rent could be unbundled from housing rent.

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        • soren August 7, 2015 at 3:11 pm

          correct me if i’m wrong, but i believe parking permits in NW PDX cost $60 a year which is about the same value tossed around for the current proposal. i would love to see permits that put genuine price pressure on parking (say $360 per year) but think the likelihood of this happening is close to zero. i currently spend about $400 each year for all my car-centric transportation costs (including insurance and fuel) and an approx doubling of that cost would cause me to strongly consider selling the car.

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          • TonyJ August 7, 2015 at 3:36 pm

            As I have said in the article and in the comments, I am trying as hard as I can to advocate for a price that is as close to the market rate as possible. If we end up with $60 dollar permits we might as well give up because that is a laughable amount.

            It will be interesting to see how universal the opposition to realistic pricing is. I fear that opposition to prices I consider meager for car storage (30-50 a month) will be nearly universal. IMO that’s the linchpin to this proposal and that’s what we’re going to need a lot of support for.

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      • TonyJ August 7, 2015 at 1:10 pm

        Want to add that I don’t disagree with your second paragraph at all.

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  • RM Hampel August 7, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    someone who can afford to rent a home is often not perceived to be in the same socioeconomic class as someone who rents a room or apartment.Recommended 1

    Really, dude? The people who rent homes in my inner SE neighborhood are largely 20-something year-olds living 3-5 to a single detached home. They are NOT socioeconomically advantaged at all.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 7, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      And a lot of those new apartments are pretty swish.

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