In a splashy report on KGW.com last week, the much-loved Portland chef Andy Ricker of Pok Pok lamented the recent lack of off-street auto parking on the street where he built his fame.
Developers of Portland’s future Division Streets are “going to need to lose some commercial space to parking,” Ricker told the news channel.
If that were to be the case, it’d be a big shift for future players in Portland’s nationally famous restaurant scene. Of the 93 Portland restaurants in Willamette Week’s “Restaurant Guide 2015” list released this month, 74 — Pok Pok among them — chose to set up shop in buildings that don’t have any car parking at all.
Of course, many or most customers at these restaurants drive to them. Though all these businesses draw foot, bike and transit traffic, all also rely on street parking, and in some cases on nearby paid garages or parking lots.
“All of the best places in Portland don’t have parking, and that’s part of what makes them great places.”
— Martin Cizmar, Willamette Week
But Ricker is right that street parking in Pok Pok’s neighborhood has become harder to find. So why are so many ambitious restaurants choosing to do business in exactly those spots? And why are they, to judge from Willamette Week’s enthusiasm, thriving despite the annoyances of parking nearby?
I asked Martin Cizmar, who edited Willamette Week’s restaurant guide, if his publication had perhaps disregarded restaurants in more auto-oriented areas because of his staff’s cultural links to the city center.
Just the opposite, Cizmar said.
“We’d really love to fuck with the urban elitists to tell them they have to drive to the suburbs to get any good food, but we could not in good conscience do that,” Cizmar said. “They just don’t have these kind of restaurants.”
Cizmar offered two main reasons.
First, he said, people prefer to spend money in areas that aren’t dominated by car parking.
“All of the best places in Portland don’t have parking, and that’s part of what makes them great places,” he said. “They’re in walkable areas where you have lots of nice density that people like. … You can walk next door and get a cocktail with their meal, or walk down the street later and get dessert.”
Second, Cizmar said, buildings without parking are probably better-suited to entrepreneurship, because they allow new businesses to draw on the foot traffic of existing ones, and also because parking lots are so expensive.
“When you open a restaurant in an area that doesn’t have other restaurants and doesn’t have foot traffic, you’re taking a bigger risk,” he said. “If you find yourself a space on the edge of town that has a giant parking lot, you’re risking flaming out. And if you’re paying to rent a parking lot in addition to renting your space, you’re also taking on a huge amount of overhead. … It probably doesn’t pencil out for almost any restaurant to want to have a parking lot when that space could be put to better use.”
Even in relatively auto-oriented areas like NE 52nd and Sandy or SE 64th and Powell, small restaurants like Cabezon and Rose VL have set up in buildings that don’t have private parking.
Once you’re looking, in fact, it starts to seem as if Portland’s independent sit-down restaurants have been trying to locate anywhere except a building that has set aside some commercial space for parking. Even in relatively auto-oriented areas like NE 52nd and Sandy or SE 64th and Powell, small restaurants like Cabezon and Rose VL have set up in buildings that don’t have private parking. Nearby buildings with parking lots are home to regional or national chain stores like Gustav’s or 7-11.
Garrett Peck, general manager of Imperial, said that when he co-founded Willamette Week’s “Restaurant of the Year” parking was not a significant consideration.
The most important thing for Imperial, he said, was the number of potential customers within walking distance — in Imperial’s case, hotel patrons.
“We were looking to capture the hotel business,” he said. “There’s 1500 hotel rooms within a five-block area.”
Peck said he previously worked at Renata, a Southeast Portland restaurant that has an on-site parking lot. Renata, he said, pays quite a bit of rent for that lot, but it’s not nearly big enough to hold the restaurant’s patrons.
Dana McErlean, who owns two restaurants on the Willamette Week list, said that when she opened her first restaurant, Yakuza at 30th and Killingsworth, it was in a building she’d purchased herself in 1999. She rebuilt it into her home (upstairs) and into a restaurant on the ground floor.
She said she never considered adding a parking lot with that building. When she opened her next two restaurants within a block of that corner — DOC and Nonna, both on Willamette Week’s 2015 list — on-site parking wasn’t a consideration either, even though curbside parking in the neighborhood is far scarcer than it was in 1999. Her main motivation was building the value of each of her restaurants by creating a hub of other restaurants and businesses within easy walking distance of one another.
“There is a really large community that commutes by bike or public transportation,” she said. “Parking lots take a lot of space … if you’ve got to park a couple blocks away and walk somewhere, is it really a big deal?”
— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – email@example.com
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Correction 11:20 pm: The photo caption in an earlier version of this post gave the wrong street for Paley’s Place. It’s on NW 21st Avenue.
McErlean’s comment, “if you’ve got to park a couple blocks away and walk somewhere, is it really a big deal?””. This question should have been asked by the KGW reported, but then, I guess that’s asking for too much from KGW.
Thank you, also, for pointing out that Pok Pok (on Division) has no parking, yet Ricker feels new developments should have parking. At least, I think he means, new developments after other recent developments (Pok Pok) have already occurred. Brilliant!
Great reporting! I think Ricker is functionally arguing that the neighborhood would have been better off without him.
The irony of lamenting the loss of the parking lots on Division is that before all the development, there was plenty of parking but no reason to actually visit the area.
Having first moved to Portland in the 90s, I can confirm this. The only reason to go that stretch of Division was the Nature’s store.
This was, of course, before Nature’s got bought by Wild Oats … which then got bought by Whole Foods … which then (at this location) got slaughtered by that upstart New Seasons down the street. And there’s your SE Portland 20 years of history in a nutshell.
What about laughing horse books? RIP.
Clay’s Smokehouse Grill has always been there, too.
I have a hunch that what Andy is really saying is that he, personally, is having a hard time finding a place to park his car.
I can only imagine what a pain in the ass it is getting deliveries without an alley!
Isn’t that what cargo bikes are for?
Don’t be silly, refrigerated restaurant and drink deliveries, you’d need a 100 cargo bikes/week.
You and I should sit down and try to pencil this out. I suspect neither of us knows enough about this yet. I’ll admit I know very little about supplying a restaurant and I have a feeling you are underestimating the potential utility of cargo bikes and trailers.
I think B-line is doing just this for some businesses. I think with their capacity this would actually be quite doable for some of the smaller restaurants.
supplying the restaurants or delivering restaurant food to customers? Or perhaps both?
I am a lifelong chef, and I can assure you that as much as I love cycling, cargobike delivery of goods in the restaurant industry will never be a thing. Perhaps after a total economic collapse, though….. Who knows.
Ask the soupcycle folks how their provisions arrive.
“cargobike delivery of goods in the restaurant industry will never be a thing.”
Why so unimaginative? So boring? So grumpy?
Just because you have a hard time conceiving of it has very little if any bearing on whether it could happen, or will happen.
http://www.foodora.de is a delivery service of food from 100 restaurants in Berlin (and a bunch of other cities now as well) to their customers.
Here’s an article about it:
I didn’t find any mention of delivery of food to restaurants, but would think if anything this should be easier to organize if/when someone discovers the advantages.
I would love to see this happen just as much as you would, but I think the main point is that the volumes and distances involved are simply too high to be managed by bicycle. Add in the need for refrigeration and the mass involved when delivering large quantities of beer/wine/liquor, and you have a very challenging situation.
And even if those practical hurdles can be overcome, you’d have a hugely higher labor bill to contend with. Throw in the costs of managing a larger workforce… there’s no way it would be remotely economically competitive.
The majority of comments with which I find myself disagreeing here assume the future will be a linear extrapolation of the present, and fossil fuels will remain cheap and ubiquitous. If we can agree that this is a reasonable assumption, then your economic comparison has some validity. But if we assume otherwise, I think hauling not just wine and salad greens to restaurants by bike, but most anything, will start to make all kinds of sense.
Not necessarily fossil fuels, but some energy source that allows mechanical assistance for heavy labor. If that premise changes, then all bets are off. I’m not going to spend my time thinking about how Portland restaurants will get their deliveries in a world where Portland as we know it might no longer exist.
“If that premise changes, then all bets are off.”
See this is what I don’t get. Why do so many smart people prefer to pretend this all doesn’t concern us? They’re willing to bet the farm on the chance that someone will invent a way to power our industrial civilization on strawberry jam or wheat chaff, with no Plan B.
It is not that it doesn’t concern us, it’s just that if things get to that point, everything will change, so it would be difficult to make any meaningful plans. If they change slowly, we’ll adapt as needed. If they change suddenly, it will be like The Road.
Delicious strawberry jam: hydro, wind, geothermal, solar, biogas, tidal, nuclear (ThO2) etc.
“if things get to that point, everything will change, so it would be difficult to make any meaningful plans.”
Right. Especially if you wait that long.
This is all very circular: Strawberry jam will save us; and if it doesn’t, well, then it will be too late to do anything about it.
Ok, so how do we finance the bicycle powered restaurant supply delivery service now, while there are still significantly cheaper alternatives (like trucks) competing for the business?
You do what PDC, for instance, does right now. You strategize about what kinds of investments make sense, what projects or ideas needs attention, what is going to help us going forward. Obviously a fair fraction of what PDC actually funds and prioritizes does not appear to meet these criteria, but anyone paying even a little bit of attention should have noticed by now that human powered transport (still) has tremendous potential, and that fossil fuel powered transport does not, consumer preferences and convenience notwithstanding.
It sometimes goes by the name cyclelogistics. The Europeans are already doing this. B-Line is already doing this right here in town.
Yes, B-Line does do a little in this space, and that’s great. Where they differ from what we’re discussing is volume. They seem to be able to compete on transporting small amounts of stuff that would otherwise use a truck. It can be competitive to deliver, say, tea, or bread, over short distances by bike.
Wholesale restaurant supply is a different ballgame. Large quantities, which would require multiple cycle trips (vs. a single truck trip), and longer distances (say, from a warehouse at the intersection of I-205 & I-5) are more of a challenge. If the product needs to be refrigerated, the problem is compounded.
Maybe, theoretically, you could create a warehouse somewhere on Division that would supply the restaurants there using bikes, but that would be very expensive, and would use prime real estate for warehouse use, which is not the best use of land. And that warehouse would need to be supplied by truck, so at best you’ve pushed the problem back a little.
I’m not arguing that it would be impossible, only economically unfeasible. Hence the need to wait for circumstances to change to put something like this into practice.
I hear what you are saying; I’m just chagrined that we see the temporal nature of this so differently.
“Hence the need to wait for circumstances to change to put something like this into practice.”
But I think we’re about a generation too late to invest thoughtfully in an alternative-to-the-truck-as-solution-for-everything infrastructure. If we were to wait until using trucks for everything is too expensive it will no longer be feasible to *begin* to think about how to revamp our entire infrastructure, not only because of the amount of time it will take to accomplish this switch or because of the relative prices of deliveries but because the low price of oil is absolutely key to making any sort of economically palatable switch in something like our transport infrastructure. Make no mistake, we will switch over, but because we diddled for thirty years because of arguments like yours it will be painful and abrupt and chaotic and clumsy rather than what the cyclelogistics folks are working on right now.
That we’re not doing large deliveries by bike is simply because it costs too much. Human labor is expensive; mechanical labor is cheap. This is a good thing. You are free to subsidize such a delivery service, but I will not. There are better ways to help the world.
You continue to misconstrue my comments as saying we should do nothing about climate change and CO2 emissions. I have never suggested anything of the sort. I value cheap energy because it has brought so much good to humanity (food, medicine, transport, comfort… even modern bicycles couldn’t exist without it). I am not blind to the dangers of relying on fossil fuels, but I am not naive enough to think the world will just stop using them without an alternative.
I’m not the one “holding us back”. If I had my way, we’d have a small carbon tax in place today, with a steady and predictable annual increase. That is really the only thing that I am aware of that will work. Where we mostly disagree is on where that would take us. You see a future world built on an imagined pastoral past that probably never existed, yet somehow able to sustain 9 billion people; I imagine a future not so different than today, but with a different source of energy. We each think the other naive and foolish.
But that difference does not matter (which is why I don’t find it productive to discuss), because the way we get to either of them is the same: gradually raise the price of emitting CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and let people find new solutions.
I hope we can agree on that, at least.
“You see a future world built on an imagined pastoral past that probably never existed, yet somehow able to sustain 9 billion people; I imagine a future not so different than today, but with a different source of energy. We each think the other naive and foolish.”
Pithy summary. Thanks.
But I have no illusions about returning to a pastoral past or the viability of 9 billion people without ongoing, regular injections of fossil fuels. I see trouble where you see a smooth landing.
“the way we get to either of them is the same: gradually raise the price of emitting CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and let people find new solutions.”
A steep price on carbon would be salutary, though anything gradual at this point is hard to accept as anything other than a concession that having fooled ourselves for so long into thinking that everything would turn out o.k. we’re now in no position to speak forthrightly about what is actually required, and is therefore quite understandably probably going to be unpopular. Have you read Kevin Anderson’s blog, or what he and his colleagues out of the Tyndall Center are writing?
If the s*it hits the fan at the ultimate end, I will be fighting you and many others down by the dog bowl just to forrage the berries. I will be eating them raw. No sugar needed. So forget the jam ! Ha !As you stated this conversation is “getting cyclical”. I was happy others joined to perhaps help you see our point. If huge changes develop, of course we will adapt. I welcome you to join me in making deliveries of my job just once by cargo bike. Perhaps then you will understand my stance.
Why am I addicted to these comment threads? I gotta seek help.
“If huge changes develop, of course we will adapt.”
Can you be more specific? How is what I’ve been saying any different?
You (Hello, Kitty, Huey Lewis, longgone) are not really saying with a straight face that huge changes are not already underway, are you?
Changes are clearly underway.
“I welcome you to join me in making deliveries of my job just once by cargo bike. Perhaps then you will understand my stance.”
What needs hauling, in your line of work?
Does your line of work predate the rise of cheap fossil fuels?
How did they manage before?
What do you think they’ll do after?
What do you do for a living?
Will you please stop with this “why in the world would you use a truck/van/car when you can just ride a bike?!” stuff. We all ride bikes here but you seem to be the one biggest voice that seems to refuse to accept that auto use is a thing that does provide value in some cases. This here with produce delivery, a couple weeks back with the nonsense about contractors not using trucks, etc. It’s nuts, really. A couple people say “you know, that’s just not happening here in the restaurant industry, too much to be delivered, refrigerated/frozen goods, whatever whatever. And you come back with “oh well we just need a paradigm shift in our thinking…” It gets so old!
“that seems to refuse to accept that auto use is a thing that does provide value in some cases.”
I get that it provides all kind of value right here, right now. I never said otherwise. My point is that it is precisely this value that is threatened, that will one day soon go poof, and we will have failed to plan for what succeeds it. What do you think about the prospects of automobility and diesel-powered freight?
“It’s nuts, really.”
You know what I think is nuts? Pretending that this doesn’t concern us, that everything will turn out fine. Perhaps you can appreciate the irony of your enough with the bikes-as-commercial-vehicles stance given that just today the Paris Climate Talks have begun?
Which is why NY has no restaurants.
Trying to park a Hummer limo on Division is no joke.
Ricker can take his overpriced Thai food and move out past 82nd if he really feels strongly about this. He’d probably find a cheaper lot.
In reality, what he wants is the city to provide subsidized parking for his business. That’s bad policy, and it’s not going to happen.
Maybe he should tear down half of his restaurant to provide parking for 5 cars?
…continue to provide him.
Great reporting, Michael. One of the main reasons I moved to where I live is because I don’t own a car and Division Street was walkable from my house. Being able to live in a single family home with density and commercial retail within walking distance is what makes inner Portland so livable and desirable. I’m also not contributing to the traffic and parking issues commonly bemoaned by residents of the neighborhood.
It’s certainly no coincidence that the most desirable neighborhoods in Portland also happen to be the ones platted before near universal automobile ownership. Back when everyone took streetcars, neighborhoods had to be oriented toward people walking since each trip started and ended with a walk.
Thankfully it appears this lie, that we need parking right in front of the door, is dying in parts of Portland. Parts..I tell you. I am all for private owners doing whatever they want with their lot. That said, if you need someone to pull up in front of your door in order to stay in business, your business is mediocre at best.
Sure, it’s nice to park a car in front..but it’s not needed.
True. Hell, 30 years ago in Chicago, one had to park 8 – 10 blocks away and then walk to their desired venue. It was accepted. Whereas in Houston or Kansas City this would never have been tolerated by the consumer. Portland has a strange and tiny grid system with no alleys to speak of. It makes things awesome, but difficult at the same time
Totally agree. That’s what valet parking is for 😉
Paley’s Place is not on 23rd
Whoops, you’re right – it’s 21st. Fixed.
A restaurant with a parking space for each patron? Sounds like a drive-in.
Was about to reply “You’re not my dad!”, but then again, my last name’s not Ericsson. Carry on.
It does me good to hear people complain about the lack of parking in close in Portland, and I’m really glad these restaurants are after foot traffic, rather than automobile traffic. Those who complain about it can go to the Spaghetti Factory or Denny’s. TGIFs. Beaverton.
Made me snicker- “We’d really love to fXXX with the urban elitists to tell them they have to drive to the suburbs to get any good food, but we could not in good conscience do that,” Cizmar said. “They just don’t have these kind of restaurants.”
I love it – the “Lake Wobegon effect”, right here in River City 😉
Gross. Glad too see the tide is turning on Ricker’s popularity. Enough with the overpriced gentrified street food, “food porn”, novelty donuts.
I miss reality.
Are you calling a few opinions on here “the tide”?
No to mention basically taking other people’s innovation/recipes and marketing it as his own.
it seems there people are taking umbrage at Ricker’s desire for parking…but isn’t his point possibly simple urban planning? all that commercial development with no parking has led to what seems to be a miserable street to traverse nearly any time of the day. I have 0 issues parking 5 blocks away, but i’d think if i lived or commuted thru the neighborhood i might want some plan to deal w/ the auto congestion.
You understand the connection between parking and congestion, right? If the city were to build several parking garages in that district, you would have hundreds of additional cars on the street each day.
Personally, I think that Division is fine. Outside of peak rush hour, there is very little congestion. We’re taking issue with Ricker’s position because it’s a silly one. Pok Pok has no off-street parking, so at most it would have two street spots in front. If his success relies on people parking near his restaurant, he should re-locate.
thanks and i get it…but a small tweak to your statement that i think u’d agree with: merely building parking garages won’t increase congestion…parking garages largely aren’t destinations in and of themselves after all. but having built all those restaurants has increased congestion. and lack of parking has to be some level of strain on the neighborhood
ok…so i’m reading into this that the neighborhood somewhat finds its own maximum operable density and attempts to alleviate that density via accessibility will just increase the traffic flow
I don’t think dedicated, centralized parking is a bad idea so long as certain conditions are met. But those conditions are not trivial:
– privately developed based on expected demand for parking, not publicly mandated via zoning.
– privately paid for by those who would use the parking, not imposed without consent such as an implicit tax on new housing or development.
– Putting those conditions together, such parking should only be built where available surface parking can’t meet demand. They should be a remedy for handling demand after available street parking is exhausted, not a shield to prevent available street parking from being exhausted.
and fwiw given how Ricker has blown up, i don’t think his “success” really is tied to whether or not he can get “subsidized” parking on division.
How will people patronize these close-in restaurants after the price of gasoline goes out of sight and we lose interest in paying to maintain cars? I just can’t imagine.
i don’t think we stop driving..but i do think we see massive savings thru not owning and housing cars that go 80% of the day sitting unused in a garage…the maturation of car sharing i think will go a long way toward easing the pain of gas price increases.
You are in good company. Many people espouse this. It is in my view a convenient fiction that allows us to imagine that incremental increases in efficiency to our current system of transport will allow us to weather the coming storms. I do think we will see car sharing picking up a large share of the hit that automobility is going to take in the short term, but I am not so sure about how long this will last, and fear we may be underestimating the transformation (beyond cozy inner neighborhoods) this kind of external shock will lead to in the medium term.
if u are suggesting that the generational move to the suburbs is dead and we are embarking on an economically mandated societal move back to city living, then your ideas are interesting to me…where might i subscribe to your blog?
Smart and car are two words that should never be put together.
9watts, i doubt gas will ever be particularly expensive again. cfcs and pcbs did not disappear as commodities because they were expensive.
CFCs and fossil fuels are biophysically about as similar as horse manure and whiskey.
not my point. demand (and prices) can drop due to an acknowledgement of harm. pcbs and cfcs have zero value today.
Wrong on both counts.
CFCs have an impressive black market value today for certain applications (see links below). But your whole argument here is premised on substitution. Because the energy density of fossil fuels will never be matched any facile claims about the potential for us to substitute away from them will inevitably disappoint.
That would sure suck for Venezuela. They’ve got massive reserves that they are camping on waiting for prices to spike. If somehow the world loses interest in oil, they’ll really be kicking themselves.
Price of gasoline? Gas is the cheapest it’s been since the early 2000’s, and only slightly higher than in was in 1972.
“How could I be overdrawn?—I still have checks left.”
well, it’s been getting cheaper lately so I suspect that scenario is ever further in the future.
“I asked Martin Cizmar, who edited Willamette Week’s restaurant guide, if his publication had perhaps disregarded restaurants in more auto-oriented areas because of his staff’s cultural links to the city center.
Just the opposite, Cizmar said.
“We’d really love to fuck with the urban elitists to tell them they have to drive to the suburbs to get any good food, but we could not in good conscience do that,” Cizmar said. “They just don’t have these kind of restaurants.””
Wow. The kid doesn’t get out much, does he?
I think what Ricker is talking about is not the past (when upper Division was a sleepy place with plenty of parking – you know, back when Pok Pok made its name, setting up in a little shack out front of a house – back when you could find a parking place right outside Lauro…) or the present. I think he’s talking about the future, and reflecting on the fact that cities are always changing – what is typical of Division today is no more guaranteed to be Division in 10 years than any other part of the city is promised to stay the same.
The question is interesting – will today’s changes set up Division to nurture the next Pok Pok – or will they price up-and-comers out of the neighborhood – to create the next best, latest place, somewhere else? Time will have its say.
“or will they price up-and-comers out of the neighborhood – to create the next best, latest place, somewhere else?”
I think they already have.
Cizmar is just angling for a job at gawker media.
Great point. Perhaps Cizmar didn’t even live here then. Anyone know ? Ha.
What is this story even saying? Of course new restaurants have no on site parking — most buildings in inner Portland that are suitable for new restaurants don’t have parking.
It is entirely consistent for a restaurateur to open a new place without parking, yet to wish more parking was available.
“It is entirely consistent for a restaurateur to open a new place without parking, yet to wish more parking was available.”
I think we both read different articles. What I’m hearing is Old Man PokPok choosing to locate his restaurant in a part of town that does not feature large surface parking lots all the while suggesting that there really should be more offstreet parking for his patrons. I don’t think this is consistent at all; I think it is sneaky and disingenuous.
The reason it is sneaky and disingenuous is that Old Man PokPok should have no trouble appreciating that what makes the location of his restaurant so suited is precisely its lack of auto-focused land uses That or some variation on that was what I took to be Michael’s point.
My first reaction is to note that the parking situation has changed dramatically since Pok Pok first opened. But beyond that… what is the story? “Restaurateur doesn’t ‘get’ new paradigm”?
what is the story? “Restaurateur doesn’t ‘get’ new paradigm”?
Restaurateur fails to appreciate that the people who patronize his restaurant and nearly all others like his prefer not to walk across large parking lots to get there, and is now (apparently unironically) crowing for something anathema to his own business model.
Externalizing the costs of parking is happening either way; the question I’d be interested in is whether there aren’t more creative solutions out there besides the two discussed on KGW.
I think most of those patrons who choose to drive would want convenient parking if they could get it. I don’t see any support for the notion that those customers would be dissuaded by crossing a parking lot.
I think you are thinking of the parking lot as a (potential) discrete addition to what is now (for instance) Division, but I think that the proximity, density, scale—whatever you want to call it—of pedestrian friendly/parking unfriendly environments is precisely what people (both the car-ed and uncar-ed) tend to prefer. I don’t think you can discretely add a parking facility into this without changing it for the worse (cf Werner Heisenberg).
I don’t think you can either, but I stand by the notion that most driving patrons would prefer convenient parking to “neighborhood integrity”, especially on a cold and rainy night.
Except that my guess would be that the restaurants we are talking about have no trouble filling up on rainy nights…
Should we be making parking policy based on the individual (secondary) preference for convenience—so construed as to always favor the automobile—or based on collective (primary) preferences for a livable city in which many objectives can be pursued?
Our trouble of late has been that we’ve tended to treat the individual consumer preference as a reasonable shorthand for the public good, failing to notice that this leads to ruin.
I am not arguing there should be parking for Pok Pok customers (I think there should not be). My point is that this article points out that 80% of new restaurants don’t have parking, and tries to extract some meaning from that number, meaning which I think is not there. That is followed by the suggestion that the owner of Pok Pok is somehow a hypocrite, which he may be, but does not follow from his comments on parking.
Yes, seems like there is a bit of chicken/egg things going on here.
Trendy restaurants set up in expensive neighborhoods where there are people who can afford their food, which is also a central location (which is one of the main reasons why those neighborhoods are expensive).
I think people are driving to these restaurants for the restaurants, not because they don’t have parking lots. Maybe there is some level of draw to an area for people who want to stroll a street and shop, but that definitely isn’t everyone.
The article is saying the restauranteurs have a revealed preference for locations with no parking (even if they say they want parking).
Take the example of Besaw’s, which was forced to leave its original and long time location at NW 23rd and Savier. With the dedicated clientele they have, they could have taken the opportunity to flee NW Portland, knowing that parking meters are coming in soon. If staying in the neighborhood was important to them, they could have chosen to lease the former Gaya Gaya or Panda Express locations on W Burnside, both of which are on the market, already fitted out as restaurants and come with parking. Instead they’re going into the ground floor of the LL Hawkins apartment building, which comes with no parking for the retail uses (other than New Seasons).
The article may be saying that, but it says very little about whether the restaurateurs prefer or tolerate the lack of parking, and in the main example of Pok Pok, it says only that the owner sited his establishmental in an area that had plenty of parking, and laments the recently changed circumstances of the neighborhood, wherein the availability of parking is diminished.
What next? Mall owner unhappy about the price of gas?
The article also trumpets Paley’s as an example of a successful restaurant with no off-street parking available. Which, I find a tad entertaining, given Paley has recently opened up his new restaurant (WW’s 2015 Restaurant of the Year) in the center of Portland Parking garage heaven.
“It is entirely consistent for a restaurateur to open a new place without parking, yet to wish more parking was available.”
It is entirely consistent for a restaurateur to open a new place with bad food, yet wish to charge prices and do business as if they served good food. That this is true says nothing at all about the ethics or morality or desirability of accommodating the restaurateur’s wishes through public policy.
It just says that (at least one) restaurateur wants a free lunch.
That’s not quite how I’d put it, but you are essentially right. So why is this a story?
Because discussion of parking and development in Portland is riddled with people like Ricker looking for a free lunch. And too often city council *has* accommodated them, leaving the city with inadequate housing and an affordability crisis.
Reporting on that dynamic, and its contradictions and hypocrisies, is necessary if we want things to get better.
Tons of people are looking for a free lunch.
There are no proposals, no plans afoot. It’s not even some juicy tale of hypocrisy or deceit by someone relevant to the cycling community. This is nothing more than some personality saying “My business would do better with more parking on Division.” Well, he may be right. It might also do better with a bigger building, or a lower tax bill. I don’t see why anyone cares.
Wake me up when something happens.
People like Ricker helped destroy the possibility of improving the 28th commercial district. It’s time to stop thinking about parking space reduction as some sort of third rail.
That may be, but that’s not what this story is about.
I’d argue there is no bigger issue today in Portland than the intertwining issues of housing and parking, development and preservation. Whether Ricker intended to or not he pretty explicitly put his foot in it. Just look at the headline of the original reporting-
Development on Division Street: How Division Street got so popular and why the growth is causing problems for people who live, work and dine at Portland’s new restaurant row.
If you think that’s a non-issue tell it to KGW.
Of course, if you take away all the cars, the problem, so called, evaporates.
Parking is a big issue, but I think Ricker’s comment is a non-issue. I see no possibility of a parking garage on Division, and even less chance of creating any new on-street parking opportunities. If Ricker were down at City Council with his parking plan in hand, then we might have something to talk about. But as it stands, it’s just idle blah blah. If we had a discussion about every business owner who made a public comment about parking, we’d never talk about anything else.
Parking for the commercial areas is a problem on Division, no question. But it’s not a problem that is going to get “solved” — I am fairly confident the same issues will exist in 10 years because… what is going to change? Where would you put the garage or lots that Ricker wants? It would take some pretty big movements to make anything happen, which we would all see coming.
That would be the right time to have our discussion.
Hello Kitty…. My new voice of reason here now. Thank you.
Cizmar is the expert on this??? But also pretty much semantics, these places don’t have designated parking, but there certainly is parking in and around these places. And much like the apartments without parking, it just pushes the parking into the neighborhoods. Then it starts the whole entitlement argument about who gets to park on the streets.
“Then it starts the whole entitlement argument about who gets to park on the streets.”
there is no argument. a public parking space is…public. if scarcity becomes a problem there is a very, very simply solution: metered parking.
What sort of strain? Wouldn’t the group whonis providing jobs to the area via eating out have more of a right to public spots than the home dwellers?
public spots are public spots.
not a transient v local argument here.
merely noting that the neighborhood has changed DRASTICALLY in the last 5years and positing how the neighborhood deals with increased destination traffic with no increase in accessibility.
as an aside…hasnt pokpok been there for 10yr +/-? at some point doesn’t he get credit for being part of the community rather than cynically read as a business trying to shill for his own pocketbook?
Without that silly statement about more parking I’d have been inclined to celebrate the role of Pok Pok. A far more interesting and honest statement from him would have explored what people like him could do to attract patrons who don’t arrive by car.
Why do you interpret his longing for more parking for his customers to be dishonest? I find it far more likely that it was a sincere expression of what he thought would be better for his business. I agree the second statement would be more interesting, but I’ll bet a minority of his patrons are from the neighborhood, and probably a majority drive to get there.
Because we should all have our eyes open, and not just when the journalist comes by asking questions. Whining for more parking is very 20th Century. We should know better by now. The world has become a big, complicated mess and we can’t indulge our childish urges anymore.
Exactly. The whole idea that a home dweller somehow has claim to street parking because their dwelling just happens to be there..is odd to me. If they want practically guaranteed parking in front of your house, move to the far out burbs. If they live within 100 blocks of downtown….that was their choice.
I have always been able to find parking for my car around eateries. Do I have to walk? Sure. That’s part of the charm. It makes it fun to know that my place to eat is so popular..I have to trek for it.
ricker funded pok pok by serially flipping houses in portland. i don’t think he cares much about the community.
I can’t tell if this is supposed to be sarcastic or not.
I’ve seen this mentioned in multiple places now. Perhaps someone can enlighten us.
ricker bragged about his flipping skills in a local publication (portland monthly or the oregonian foodie mag?). i’ve boycotted his restaurants since that piece.
I don’t see what is wrong with fixing up homes and reselling them for a profit. There are a number of homes that are at or near the abandoned state in my neighborhood that I wish someone would come in and flip.
No joke. I think many neighbors prefer this to either:
A. abandoned decrepit houses, and neighborhood that doesn’t improve.
b. demos followed by massive, monster houses, or split lots and skinny houses.
Flippers provide a service to those who don’t have the time or expertise to fix up a house themselves. That might lead to some price inflation in the neighborhood, but usually that is less than a demo and new construction.
it’s nonsense to suggest that the only alternatives to speculative flipping are abandoned homes or demolition. there is nothing wrong with stable housing prices or even a little depreciation.
Flipping can be a touchy issue. Personally, I have no problem with the concept. They are providing a service by doing work that others would prefer to not deal with. My only issue is that they tend to cut corners; so I would never buy a flipped house. The bigger issue is that our federal housing and tax policies make it very profitable. So much of the debt and spending is deductible, and if they keep the house for a certain period they don’t have to pay capital gains. We need to treat house flipping as a business, and tax it accordingly.
flipping is the high-frequency trading of real estate.
It also most often involves improving properties.
a home flip is a purchase with the expectation of profit due to appreciation. repairs, if any, were largely cosmetic during the housing bubble.
Appreciation? Most flippers are trying to unload their properties as quickly as possible to avoid extra months of a mortgage.
And yes if they want to make the most money they will improve a lot more than just cosmetic issues.
I grew up in Chicago, and when it was time to go somewhere like Division (a busy commercial corridor) we didn’t even think about driving. Take the bus or the L. Why deal with terrible traffic? Why circle around the neighborhood for half an hour to find a spot 10 blocks away? Nobody does that. The other option, for more growed-up or affluent or suburban people, was to pay for parking which could be up to $24 an HOUR depending on location. Then, depending what part of town you lived in/if you had a garage, you got to spend another hour trying to find a parking spot near your house. That was generally worse because, unlike he commercial areas, people aren’t coming and going so much so there is less chance of a spot becoming available. There were always better alternatives to driving and parking for us city kids. The same thing can happen here. We can learn to survive without wasted space given to personal car storage, and those that can’t can learn to pay for parking. No big deal.
Do you think at all about the social implications of the model you are espousing? It is based on income inequality. What’s available to “more growed-up or affluent or suburban people” is not available for the street urchins (Baker Street Boys? ;-))
And that’s ok, you say, they make do. But what happens when they get old? And they are not “affluent or suburban people”. And they groan when they get out of bed, and it takes ten minutes before they can stand up straight.
A social model that is based on wildly differing privilege – on wildly differing incomes – is not sustainable.
Let’s see for my birthday one year I went to pok pok on division because I wanted to try it after all the hype. It was literally a 2 hour wait on a Tuesday evening, but decided to stick with the plan. what did I do while waiting? I walked with my group to a neighboring bar across the street then returned 2 hours later and ate at pok pok. If they were in an unwalkable auto centric location, we would have just driven off to another restaurant.
The other part to this is the synergy with other businesses, while there is some competition with restaurants on a street like division, for the most part the presence of other restaurants actually helps a restaurant by making the whole street a destination and allows people to try other bars or stores while waiting or while strolling before or after a meal.
Did you ever go back?
Please tell me that bar across the street was the Whiskey Soda Lounge.
A parking garage will not increase traffic and congestion. It will decrease both, since much of the traffic on and around Division is drivers circling endlessly while they look for parking.
If parking is extremely hard to find, then some people simply will not go to Division for eating, drinking, shopping, etc. Taking a bus, riding a bike, calling a cab – all of these are obstacles that deter some people.
This sounds like the start of an argument for more parking on or around Division, but it isn’t. Because, if lack of parking means some people are deterred from going to Division, to Pok Pok or Salt & Straw or Bollywood or whatever . . . and yes, they will be . . . why is that a bad thing?
When Division becomes too crowded, businesses will find the next new street or neighborhood to open on, people will find the next new street to stroll, eat, and yes park on. The next Pok Pok won’t open on Division, it’ll open on some other street.
That’s good. Portland should have many different nightlife, eating, shopping scenes, all over the city, new ones and old ones. We shouldn’t have one ridiculously over-crowded area that just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Anyway, with two hour waits, Pok Pok hardly needs more customers.
You just undermined your own argument.
Parking garages would, plausibly, increase traffic, since by your own admission the present (claimed) difficulty of finding free, proximate, on-street car parking dissuades some from even trying to dine on Division. Parking garages are filled via the surface streets surrounding them, not from the air, so instead of circling by X cars (today, no parking garage) we’d get entering and leaving by 1.4X cars, or whatever (future w/ parking garage).
A car heading to a parking garage takes a direct route to the garage entrance and, once there, disappears from the street. It might be on the streets around Division for a minute or two. A car looking for street parking circles around and around, block after block, and clogs up the street for several minutes. In terms of contribution to traffic congestion, three or four cars headed to the garage equal just one car circling and looking for street parking.
I wasn’t disagreeing with you about the problems with cruising for a parking spot; I was disagreeing that a parking garage would offer a straight shot and thus eliminate the problem of congestion. You neglected to consider that those in cars heading for the parking garage have to contend with everyone else who is not heading to the parking garage on their way there, not to mention those who are headed there too. If it were as simple as you suggest, Division St. in the morning would be free flowing since everyone, pretty much, is heading West from 39th to 12th, right?
Other things that slow cars down, like signals, stop signs, pedestrians, etc will exist regardless. But no question a parking garage will handle visitors to Division more efficiently than street parking.
Suppose, hypothetically, there was one large parking garage at one end of Division (like around 9th) and another at the other end (like around 39th). And suppose street parking were made very unattractive to visitors (residents-only permit system, high meter prices, or simply very few available spaces). The majority of visitors driving to destinations on the street would be intercepted by those parking garages, where they would park and then walk the 5, 10 or 15 blocks to their destination.
Nevertheless, I still don’t think there should be such parking garages. I think it is desirable that a commercial area like Division have limits to its growth, so that businesses and consumers are motivated to find new commercial streets that can be developed and grow. Instead of making Division bigger and bigger, start the “next Division Street” somewhere else.
If Portland’s lively shopping/dining areas can be broadly distributed around the city, that means that more people can live within a short distance of at least one such area. Short distances mean more biking and walking, and less driving.
I love that you consider “the other end of Division” as 39th……
Pop quiz: Anyone here know where the East end of Division St. (actually Division Dr.) is (without consulting a map)?
It’s somewhere in the wilderness out beyond 50th, I suspect. (Does it even go that far??)
A good distance past Gresham, actually. Division Dr makes a right turn/ends at 317th.
I know that Division goes way the heck far east, I happen to ride it often. But the blowing up part of Division currently ends at 39th.
All the greatest neighborhoods in the greatest cities in the world have tight parking. Think about where you like to go on vacation. That is because they are people-centric, not car-centric. Cars take up room, they are expensive (to the community and customer as well), noisy and dangerous; not the environment for people to relax, socialize and eat.
I took some out-of-staters to Pok Pok last week during evening restaurant rush hour – by car. Even in this busy neighborhood we only walked three blocks to find parking, took a few minutes.
We don’t have a parking capacity problem, we have a parking perception problem.
Walk + Bike!
a year or two ago the owner of a sandwich restaurant I like near my work called philly bilmos told me he was worried because a new seasons was opening in the same strip mall and he was concerned his customers wouldn’t be able to find parking close enough to his restaurant. Fast forward to today and he has opened a second restaurant focused on pizza in the same strip mall. It turns out customers are good for business, and empty parking spaces don’t really create much revenue, who knew…
Andy may be spending too much time at PokPokLA. If he wants parking so bad he should build it, give it an Asian theme, over price the small parking spots and call it ParkPark. People will flood in just to say they were the first to park there. No but really if Andy wants to complain about parking on Divison he really only has himself to blame. PokPok, Whiskey Soda Lounge & Sen Yai Noodle…. He knows what up with that street, I’m just not sure why he wants to mess with what is obviously working really well for him
Since Andy Ricker build Pok Pok in a garage and driveway, he knows that space is too valuable to be wasted on cars.
I’m mystified at all the people willing to wait forever to get into Pok Pok and its ilk. I live only two blocks from Division and avoid all the most popular attractions like the plague.
Love new seasons
I love unions, sustainability, and ethical finance. Therefore, I loathe new seasons.
Here is the funny thing… suburbanites love parking lots next to their favorite red robin. Ask them if they want a red robin next door to their house with a monster parking lot? Guessing they wouldn’t love that too much.
Parking lots cause lots of problems, draw crime, blight and need lots of maintenance. In snowy climates they also need plowing.
No parking? This would all be fine and dandy if Pok Pok were a neighborhood cafe that sold everyday food to people that live within a few blocks. But it’s not. It’s a world-renowned pillar of the foodie landscape and as such, it’s a destination for people around the metro as well as tourists and visitors of all stripes.
It’s nice that some people can afford to live nearby and walk / bike to a fancy restaurant but let’s stop pretending that these over-hyped destination eateries don’t negatively impact the areas around them when infrastructure wasn’t built to meet that demand. There’s something to be said for creating purpose-built retail and shopping areas that accommodate their customers; cramming more trendy shops and ice cream parlors onto Division is the opposite of smart.
While everyone’s patting themselves on the back, cars are being diverted down our Clinton bike boulevard due to food cart and dining traffic jams. Y’all need to wake up and come to grips with the fact that people drive to Divison– even bike-riding Eco-friendly liberal people– and the only group that’s truly benefitting from all this congestion, lot-cramming and suspension of disbelief are the developers.
As the fifth paragraph says, nobody is arguing that no one drives to these restaurants. They’re arguing that on-site parking is not required, and that curbside parking (even if it requires walking a few blocks) is more compatible with restaurant entrepreneurship than on-site parking is.
but let’s stop pretending that these over-hyped destination eateries don’t negatively impact the areas around them when infrastructure wasn’t built to meet that demand
this is my neighborhood and i love how division has changed. let’s stop pretending that those who are upset about parking scarcity and arterial congestion are representative of the entire neighborhood. in fact, i would view the development of capitol hill-style (seattle) parking stress in the inner SE as a sign of success! (i would also love to see development leading to something resembling capitol hill’s mix of apartment buildings, condos, and single family homes.)
I think people upset over congestion and parking do represent a pretty solid majority of those living near Division. Many of those probably also enjoy the new businesses on Division, but I think one can hold both views at once.
I think your views, welcoming further increases in parking stress, and seeking construction of large buildings in the residential section of the neighborhood, are only held by a small minority.
It’s easy to assert (or project) what other people think.
Are there data or studies that back up the idea that a “pretty solid majority” of those living near Division are upset over congestion and parking? Or all we all just spit-balling it here?
Or rather, are there data showing a solid majority of people living near Division would prefer the old Division to the new one?
Because it’s hard to have a vibrant place without congestion. There may be a solid majority of people who want to have their cake and eat it too (revitalization + no congestion), that’s not really what we’re deciding.
As many people have said, car parking isn’t all that bad, if you’re objective about it instead of imagining there will be a spot available for you exactly where and when you want it.
You may have to walk a couple blocks from the place you’re given 200 square feet of subsidized car storage, but if there’s a there there to go to, people will do it. Proof is in the pudding. Or the Salt and Straw. etc.
I did not say people preferred the old Division to the new one. I said most disliked the increased congestion and difficulty parking, while (likely) enjoying the new amenities on Division. There is some data to support that, from the Division Design Initiative that found (using a non-statically valid methodology) that congestion was one of the biggest complaints about Division (along with the poor design of the new construction).
Congestion is not an inevitable outcome of a healthy neighborhood — if the local businesses cater to the local population, there will be much less need for driving and parking. Division is currently home to some overhyped eateries (Pok Pok, Salt & Straw) that (I suspect) cater mostly to people from outside the neighborhood. It is a destination. That may not last forever; foodie fetishism is transient, and at some point, attention will turn elsewhere.
I think people who are OK or content with these changes have little reason to comment about them at NA meetings, nextdoor.com, or on blogs. Just saying…
Maybe they’re out enjoying the congestion!
“residential section of the neighborhood”
Apartments are residences.
Of course they are!
so you agree that “residential section of the neighborhood” is an inaccurate euphemism for “single-family-home-only section of the neighborhood”.
I absolutely agree. The areas zoned residential in Portland (i.e. the residential areas) contain a variety of structures — single-family houses, duplexes, apartment buildings, row houses, ADUs, etc. This is indisputable. It is also beyond dispute that people reside in areas that are not zoned residential (e.g. our commercial and industrial areas).
There is plenty of onstreet parking. I see streets leading to it from all directions. Streets are for everyone. Not just someone who happens to buy/rent a place in the area.
All I see in front of his restaurant is a lot of no parking signs:
what a hypocrite.
just 1 sign, prohibited parking for 1.5 hours in the morning for street sweeping…
Great response to the original article…parking is never free (someone always pays for it: you “the driver”, the business owner, your neighboring business, or you the “bus/bike rider”…through higher restaurant prices).
It will be interesting to hear of complaints about loss of on-street parking by owners of businesses in food cart pods (ex-parking lots). This was a case in the Vancouver’s downtown when a business owner converted a parking to into a seating area/ cart area…I assume such has happened in Portland too.
As for WW’s restaurant guide not having a lot of awardees (high quality restaurants) with off-street parking…it is also a case of it’s Portland centric reporting [except for pot]…there are a couple of restaurants in “olde Oregon Territory” (aka Vancouver) that would make the list if WW’s circulation territory matched their “content” / “awards” territory.
It’s just economics: why would anyone pay for their own parking, when they can obligate everyone else to pay for it for them? It’s the same argument we hear when residents of a neighborhood want to force new residents to pay for the existing on-street parking.
Good point, Tomas, and well said. I’m not for more parking being built on Division (or elsewhere) and dearly desire the death of the automobile. But what your said definitely resonates with what I’ve been stewing over, lately. Please forgive the digression, all…
I’ve been thinking our new city motto should be Portland is For Other People. I was shocked to discover that–due in large part to the assiduous efforts of TravelPortland & TravelOregon–we get more tourists yearly now–just in Portland–than Barcelona and other major tourist destinations that are buckling under the burden of being other people’s entertainment. 8.6 million, just in Portland. Per year. That’s hospitality industry-reported overnight stays (so that’s not counting Airbnb, I believe, or couch crashers). The number of yearly visitors to the state now is 26.8 million (reported).
This would explain why summers, esp., here now feel like the entire world has descended upon us. Because it has! Well, a lot of it. 😉 I avoid pretty much the entire city now, much of the year, which is a neat feat considering I reside here. I can’t stand the crowds and the lines and the hordes of teeming people. I feel like a sad trapped rat.
I wish we would go the way of Barcelona and start addressing the downside to too many eager people feverishly consuming us/Portland.
I don’t think your Barcelona to Portland comparison is an apples to apples comparison. The Travel Portland number represents “overnight person-trips”, while the Barcelona number is actual number of people.
Hi maccoinnich–how are you supposing Barcelona is calculating visitor numbers (“actual number of people”)? Are you saying Portland has even more yearly visitors than Barcelona, taking into consideration the incomplete nature of overnight stay stats (in which case, we agree)? Apologies if I’m misunderstanding you here. Here’s a link to a story that includes a link to the government figures (up to 2013) for Barcelona–I just did a quick scan but looks to me like they’re using hospitality industry stats. I think (but don’t know) overnight stays are the standard by which most regions calculate tourism stats, currently.
I think he or she was saying the opposite – that Portland’s numbers count two ticks for one person who stays two nights in Portland, while Barcelona’s numbers count one tick for the same person staying two nights in Barcelona.
Oh–thanks, Alex. Where’d that thought come from, mac (and Alex)? Is there something I’m missing that you saw?
Yes, that is what I was saying. The claim that Portland has more tourists than Barcelona didn’t seem intuitively correct, so I clicked on the links. Now that I click through further to this PDF (http://professional.barcelonaturisme.com/imgfiles/estad/Est2013.pdf) I see that while Barcelona has 7,571,766 tourists a year, it has 16,485,074 overnight stays. The second number is probably the more relevant comparison to Travel Portland’s 8,600,000 figure.
Thanks much, maccoinnich! I agree about it seeming weird, hence the use of the word “shocked” in my initial post. This does not bode well for my longed-for career as a statistician 🙂 That figure makes much more sense. Nevertheless, I’m still shocked at the Oregon numbers–are you?
Also–how do they get the “tourists” number, do you know? Is it still related to hotel stays?
(by which I mean registered guests)
Not really. I used to live in Edinburgh, which gives me a very high threshold for what I would consider a lot of tourists. (Try walking down the Royal Mile in August and you’ll never consider Division Street busy again). Out of curiosity I looked up the number of overnight stays, and it peaked at 14,177,000 visitor nights in 2006. And that’s in a much smaller and denser city than Portland.
Yes, I’m sure that’s true! But I’m comparing Portland to itself–not major world cities of longstanding, like Edinburgh. It’s all quite a shock to the system for a rube who grew up here, and a big change.
I hear Edinburgh is stunning. 🙂
I was walking that area of Division multiple times a week when Pok Pok opened and I’ve never eaten there because the line was always too long… we would just walk a few more blocks and eat elsewhere and be done by the time we would have just been seated at Pok Pok…
there are a lot fewer parking lots than there used to be and yet there are lots more people…
people don’t care about parking as much as business owners seem to…
You can actually get take out there pretty easily at the take out window.
The wings are one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.
Yep, call ahead and get takeout from the window, then just stroll up and collect your food! It’s a limited menu, but they have the gai yang and who cares about anything else?
1,100 lbs of beets and carrots being delivered by bike in Hadley, MA:
Good golly! !!!
I’m hungry… Anyone wanna hit pok pok for some wings ?
I wonder how municipal parking requirements will come to be viewed once this new economic reality really sinks in for banks and other financiers. Perhaps as the real regulatory barrier to private enterprise and economic development?