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Average apartment building costs fell sharply during no-parking apartment boom

Posted by on March 28th, 2016 at 11:13 am

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Southeast Ankeny Street.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

In 2013, when the Portland City Council began requiring most new apartment buildings of 30 or more units to include on-site parking garages, housing watchdogs warned that this would drive up the prices of newly built apartments.

Because the city still lets anyone park for free on public streets, they predicted, landlords wouldn’t be able to charge car owners for the actual cost of building parking spaces, which can come to $100 to $200 per month. So the cost of the garages would be built into the price of every new bedroom instead, further skewing new construction toward luxury units.

Three years later, rough data suggests that this could be exactly what happened.

To be sure, this would be only one factor in many that have driven up Portland housing costs. Rents have been rising faster among old units than new ones. But as the city council nears what looks like a tight vote on whether to impose similar mandatory-parking rules in Northwest Portland, affordable-density advocates warn that the story could repeat itself.

Portland affordability advocate Brian Cefola got in touch with us last month to share the numbers he’d crunched using local building permit data published by the U.S. Census.

It turned out, Cefola discovered, that the average cost of building a home in a Portland multi-family building dropped 24 percent between 2011, when Portland’s first wave of no-parking apartments began to open, and 2013, when the new city rule took effect.

At that point, the average price returned to its previous levels.

parking costs

Buildings with 5+ units only. Data source: Census, via Brian Cefola. Chart: BikePortland.

The housing boom and collapse surely play a role in this data, though the exact role isn’t obvious. The international recession and subsequent job collapse began in late 2008; job losses peaked in January 2009. By 2010 — before the price drop Cefola identified — Portland’s economy had become relatively stronger than the national economy, and migration to Portland was accelerating further.

In an effort to correct for changes in labor and other construction costs, Cefola (an insurance analyst in his day job) also crunched the numbers further. Using the cost of building homes in small buildings (one to four units), he created an index of what you’d “expect” units in large buildings to cost if the rules for large buildings hadn’t changed.

That adjusted measure revealed a large, brief spike in per-unit construction costs in 2008, when the recession hit.

Something else it revealed: during the 2011-2013 no-parking boom, the average new Portland apartment cost 17 percent less to build than would have been “expected.” Then it returned to normal.

construction index

Data too noisy to draw firm conclusions from, experts agree

Even local experts who oppose parking minimums cautioned that Cefola’s numbers aren’t precise enough to draw solid conclusions from.

“I think it’s really, really hard to draw any strong inferences about the role of parking requirements on building costs based on such aggregate data,” said Joe Cortright, a Portland-based economist who often writes for City Observatory about the unintended costs of overbuilding parking. “The average per unit costs are highly sensitive to what we call composition effects: sometimes developers build expensive stuff in the Pearl (larger units, nicer finishes) and sometimes its spartan studios. So the per unit cost can fluctuate depending on the mix (composition) of the units being built in any particular year. I think that’s clearly what’s going on in 2008–where you see a big spike in the average cost per unit. When the market went south, the only thing that was moving forward, apparently, was pretty high end stuff.”

“This is, alas, only circumstantial evidence,” Cortright wrote.

empty lower garage

Linden at SE 12th and Burnside tries to recoup the costs of its on-site garage by charging tenants for parking, but street parking is free.

Chris Smith, a Northwest Portland resident who this month led a successful vote by the Planning and Sustainability Commission against new parking minimums, agreed.

“I would guess that a variety of construction cost factors rising would make it hard to point to parking specifically as a cost driver in the data set we have,” he said.

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Cefola doesn’t argue otherwise.

“It’s an indication, and I think indications can be wrong,” he said.

But Cefola, who serves as president of the Grant Park Neighborhood Association in his spare time, said the data lines up with logic.

“Many people warned that it would have an impact on affordability and the kind of construction that would be put up,” Cefola said. “It added this fixed cost per unit. I think people, myself included, warned that it would incentivize larger units, higher-end units.”

A rendering of the proposed Overlook Park Apartments. After the city’s parking requirements took effect, it added an extra story, 17-20 auto parking spaces and higher rents.
(Image: TVA Architects)

There might be no better test case in the city than a project (still unfinished) called Overlook Park Apartments. That project was designed with no parking before the code change, then redesigned with parking after the code change.

The second plan for the building had 17 parking spaces, fewer housing units and higher target rents.

Cefola said he thinks his circumstantial evidence is enough reason for professionals at the city to dig deeper.

“I think there’s this question out there that the city really ought to be answering,” Cefola said. “Given the fact that they say there’s a state of emergency on housing, how come they haven’t made any attempt to assess the parking policy they put in four years ago?”

Interested in parking reform? Come to BikePortland’s wonk night Tuesday to help smarter parking rules build a better low-car city.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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charlietso
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charlietso

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability published a report in 2012 showing how different types of on-site residential parking could impact housing affordability. The link is here https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/420062

Parking requirements impact housing affordability by increasing the cost of rent and reducing the number of units that can be built on a development sire.

maccoinnich
Subscriber

…and that was the last time they looked into it. At the February 26th hearing on the NW District Parking Update Project BPS Director Susan Anderson told the Planning & Sustainability Commission that no studies have been done on what the effects of the 2013 changes were. At a time when housing affordability is the single biggest issue of discussion in Portland, I’m absolutely astounded that they would come forward with proposals to expand parking minimums without even looking at what effect the last round of changes had on affordability.

Ben Schonberger (@SchonbergerBen)
Guest
Ben Schonberger (@SchonbergerBen)

Your reporting is killing it on this issue, Michael. KILLING IT.

soren
Subscriber

I agree. Michael is a YIMBY superhero.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Great report, and it is certainly not rocket science. Parking minimums increase the cost of construction, requiring developers to take on more debt to pay for the increase. More debt means higher debt service, which means more income is needed from each unit. And with free parking surrounding these properties, developers/owners know that virtually no residents will pay for the on-site spaces, meaning the revenue increase has to be baked into the lease of the units.

SE
Guest
SE

I thought this was a biking blog ?

spencer
Guest
spencer

if you think that adding 1000’s of cars and more people to the city doesn’t impact biking, you are living in a fantasy world

Dan
Guest
Dan

The cars are coming, regardless of whether there’s on-site parking or not.

9watts
Subscriber

No, it doesn’t (have to) work like that.
Even without climate change (which is a game changer if there ever was one) you can deploy policy levers to discourage, penalize car use and prioritize alternatives.

oliver
Guest
oliver

Sure, and anyone who doesn’t own a place to park their car will continue to have no justification for moaning about having nowhere to park it.

I own, (and pay the debt and taxes on) the place where I store my car when I’m not using it, as well as bear the opportunity cost of not having that space available to put to other uses.

People who do not can whistle.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

I kind of doubt that you own and pay the taxes on every single place you store your car. I could be wrong, and oddly enough I do own and pay the taxes on the one and only place I store a car, so I know it is possible, but I still think it is highly unlikely. (Said car is non-operational by choice and is only used to allow me to obtain insurance on those rare occasions when I rent a car (long, convoluted story).)

Rider
Guest
Rider

Maybe, we’ve noticed with our employees that fewer and fewer own cars. They all use a combination of Uber, car share, transit, bike, and walking. At one point only 2 of the 50+ owned an automobile. Autos aren’t going anywhere, but ownership is certainly on the decline.

David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC
Guest
David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC

Car registration is also apparently on the decline. Portland Police regularly report that 20-30% of vehicles in Portland are not actually registered – they no longer pull people over for it, unless there is some other violation involved. Meanwhile, car counts on the bridges continue to rise.

Brad Halverson
Guest
Brad Halverson

20-30%? My estimate is 5-10% of those on the street. I don’t understand why the city can’t go around and tag these for a few million $ of fees that remain uncollected. Lack of enforcement will convince more folks it is okay to not pay for car tags.

soren
Subscriber

people who bike are being pushed out of bikeable neighborhoods by people who prefer to rent two-car garage mcmansions from the bank. discriminatory exclusionary zoning is a major barrier to increasing active transportation mode share.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Developers are building larger, single houses, even where they could build two (or more). That’s what the market apparently wants and is willing to pay for. I suspect that at least some of the people buying these are not “renting from the bank”, but are buying outright for cash (renting from their bank account?)

All zoning is exclusionary and discriminatory. That’s the whole point.

soren
Guest
soren

“All zoning is exclusionary and discriminatory. That’s the whole point.”

Zoning is only exclusionary and discriminatory when it prevents the construction of housing that is desired/needed by other residents. I find it deeply cynical and sad that you believe the point of land-use policy is to discriminate against people who are not like you.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Please don’t lower the level of this discussion to personal insults.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

Hi SE,

I had a similar question for Michael way back when he pitched the “Real Estate Beat” to me. But over the past few years I’ve come to see a much broader picture of cycling and the role of BP plays in helping cycling reach its potential.

The way land and buildings are used and developed – a.k.a. “land use” – has a direct impact on the cycling environment. Not only that, but land use can also either encourage or discourage the ownership and use of automobiles… And I think you’d agree that the number of automobiles on our streets has a huge impact on how it feels to ride a bicycle on those streets.

And then there’s the affordability piece. Land use policies that encourage/favor automobile ownership tend to drive up the cost of real estate. And auto-oriented development also makes our city much less dense — which in turn drives up the price of housing.

If we want more people to ride bicycles in Portland, I (as publisher of BikePortland) think it’s very important that we closely monitor and cover land-use and parking policy.

One other thing factoring into my decision to publish articles like this is that I feel we can do it well/better (and with more frequency) than almost any other local news source. As a publisher and editor, I want to utilize all the talents of our reporters. And in Michael’s case, he happens to have a wonderful understanding of these issues and the ability to report on them. That’s such a valuable thing for the community that it’d be a shame to not give it as much of a platform as possible.

Paul g
Guest
Paul g

Jonathan
Sorry, I can’t agree. This is an advocacy piece, as most of these pieces by Michael are. There is nothing wrong with printing advocacy, but please don’t claim this is journalism.
The piece relies on a housing cost estimate by a non expert and advocate for one side of the position. (The parenthetical about him being an insurance adjuster–what exactly is the relevance? It’s an attempt to give him credibility, but why do we think insurance actuarial work gives you expertise in housing economics?).
The known expert in the field–Joe Cortright–says you cannot draw any conclusions from the data. Chris Smith us a fine person but not an expert in this area, yet Chris is highly skeptical as well.
Quotes from the other side–standard journalistic practice to assure you are not representing just one side of the story? Zero,
And then the story closes with the advocate quotes again, Michael basically accepting everything he says whole cloth.

I’m glad you are covering this, but it’s to a point where I read every story in this series with huge skepticism because Michael has consistently promoted factoids that promote his viewpoint with seldom critical reflection or an attempt to investigate the other side. It’s ok, it’s advocacy. But not journalism, not at least as I understand it.

maccoinnich
Guest

Who would represent the other side here? Ideally the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability would have studied the effects of parking minimums put in place 3 years ago before proposing to expand them… but they haven’t.

I think it’s to Michael’s credit that he included the skepticism of two of the people he contacted for quotes. When Joe Cortright and Chris Smith didn’t full support the thesis presented it would have been very easy to just leave their voices out.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

Why shouldn’t we hear the other side? Sometimes greater understanding happens that way. People on this site have a fear of being wrong or having their beliefs challenged.

Daniel Keough
Guest
Daniel Keough

Parking requirements limit development options, limit the density and when they are rampant around a city have an impact on furthering the use of cars–and prioritizing the use of motor vehicles. When cities allow developer to build more density, mixed use walkable areas–they are also much more accommodating to people on two human powered wheels. Some developments never happen due to requirements, or that café or cool store that would have moved into a new building may end up just being first floor underground parking. No café to bike to, higher housing costs cars pulling UP out of subterranean garages over the sidewalk and through the bike lane we go…

Pete
Guest
Pete

And the space for that cafe could also house low-income units.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

The proof is in the pudding. Data. Owners will charge every market-rate penny possible when there are very few vacancies available, parking or not. Tenants will pay it, because they must, parking or not. Where’s the beef, as a certain granny used to say. Evidence.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Will we see rents lowered as a result of cheaper construction costs? That’s the beef in this case. And I think it’s in the pudding.

Pete
Guest
Pete

“The housing boom and collapse surely play a role in this data, though the exact role isn’t obvious.”

One factor is that banks are only now starting to loosen restrictions on lending for multi-family units or condos compared to single-family homes. Insurance companies are also only beginning to be willing to underwrite these developments. Yes, I realize we’re now eight years past the collapse, but this is what we’ve seen with the three of the four condo units that changed hands in my building in the last three years. 60-day (or longer) closings are also still the norm, I’m told by Realtor friends.

I know this is only one of many factors, but I suspect lenders requiring high qualifications for borrowers would drive prices higher, combined with lower inventory versus demand in that time frame. You might think it would cause units to sit on the market longer and drive prices down, but I think you’ll find the reality is counter-intuitive to that – again, in that time frame (which coincides with a continual post-recession rise in the stock markets, economy and job growth).

Pete
Guest
Pete

Armchair economics… 😉

soren
Subscriber

pete, there was no rental housing bubble.
the housing bubble was largely restricted single family dwellings…and the housing bubble is back! portland’s single family housing prices are at all time highs after increasing at the fastest rate in the nation y-o-y. buy now or be priced out forever! it’s always a good time to buy!

Pete
Guest
Pete

There was indeed a rental bubble – the number of people owning went down dramatically and thus needing to rent went way up. I can introduce you to several people who saw the coming of a spike in rental demand coupled with opportunity to buy (foreclosed / bank owned) housing to rent for pennies on the dollar in anticipation of that demand, myself included. I have one friend who lost his job then and now owns at least 12 properties across the country, from Antioch, California to Memphis, Tennessee – he wanted to make damned sure his income (and his daughters college education) was no longer dependent on his employer’s stability. Mid-2008 saw the end of “stated income loans” and everybody and their brother getting multiple mortgages on singular properties, plus the government allowed banks to sit on huge numbers of foreclosed homes indefinitely… yet people still needed to live somewhere. At the same time others, typically older and more established people, saw real estate with an emphasis on “real” – there will always be demand for desirable land/properties.

The housing bubble was not restricted to single-families, not by a long shot. Entire multi-family developments went bankrupt across the US, as did huge numbers of commercial projects. But although joblessness jumped dramatically, there were still large numbers of people who profited by sales and/or equities in their homes (and the tax advantage of $250K/500K capital gains free), and as I mentioned, when banks only lend primarily on single-families, those are the properties that will jump in value the most.

So, what happens when you don’t have the credit and/or down payment to buy, the homes available for you to buy jump out of reach, and you need/want to move to cities where there are jobs/growth? Rents go up. Way up.

Look, you want affordability? Erie, Pennsylvania. Flint, Michigan. Go where the jobs aren’t, and the people don’t necessarily want to be. This is part of where the “build more housing, stupid” commentary this site is now known for falls flat on its face. Especially in a city with strict Urban Growth Boundaries.

On a side note, I just saw the movie “The Big Short”, and highly recommend it.

soren
Guest
soren

There is and was a rental shortage, not a bubble. There was no overbuilding of rental property to meet speculative demand. If you watched the big short and payed attention, you should understand the difference.

It’s also maddening to see people claim that the rental shortage in PDX is a new development. Rental vacancy rates in inner PDX has been absurdly low since I moved to PDX 16 years ago. Artificial scarcity is not a bubble.

soren
Guest
soren

“The housing bubble was not restricted to single-families, not by a long shot.”

Thanks for the strawman.

The rental vacancy rate peaked along with the bubble. There was no run on rental housing during the housing bubble:

http://static1.businessinsider.com/image/54aa9ecc69beddf826870503-599-378/homeownership-2.png

There *was* an increase in rental demand as a consequence of the housing bubble collapse due to people being forced to move out of single family housing into apartments. Effect does not equal cause.

Alain
Guest
Alain

Pete, I concur regarding your comment about 60-day closings on condos. I’m a board member of my COA. We had 3 units sell in the last 9 months, and all units took almost exactly 60 days each. Despite different lenders, and occurring in different months of that 9 month period.

Also, by observation, I can tell you that many condo units selling in today’s market will sit without price reductions. Why? Because the limited inventory means the seller can wait for the right buyer (usually all cash, or much cash) to pay their list price, or close to it. And “waiting” in this market can be a whole 4 weeks! Not a long wait.

Rumor has it, condos may be returning soon as developers may no longer be risk averse about the statutory period, and recognize that the low inventory is good for bring more units on the market. That said, how many mid-market condo will be part of this mix of new condo is uncertain. Luxury units (call them market rate) are the trend now, but hopefully not forever.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Thanks for the feedback – we saw one unit sell low because the owner had already bought a new single-family property (ironically from my ex-girlfriend). The others simply sat (under rental) for various periods until the market caught up, which it seems to have now. My banking friends have said that condo lending is starting to become a little easier, and I’m also starting to see underwriters again for our business insurance, which I’ve been shopping to change for quite some time now. Time will tell!

Tom
Guest
Tom

So charging for street parking at the same rate as a parking structure would increase rental affordabilty.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Charging for private property storage in the public space would be good policy city-wide. Unfortunately, it is very unpopular.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

You’re right. I can’t imagine cyclists sitting still for having to pay to park their bikes in the public spaces.

RH
Guest
RH

Just curious…anyone know why the Overlook Park Apartments are takings so long to build? It’s more than a year late and they are still probably 6 months away from completing it. Are other projects having these delays?

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Lets look at the bright side. In the not-too-distant future when the age of happy motoring is over all these indoor parking spaces can become low cost living spaces with the addition of tents, shipping containers or tiny houses. Or if we don’t end happy motoring soon they will become handy boat docks for use after rapid sea level rise.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Allowing camping in the former parking garage would be a cheap way of increasing average affordability without having to actually do something!

Roland Klasen
Guest
Roland Klasen

I hope people renting these apartments truly do not own a car but the skeptical side of me says many do and just park it on the street wherever they can. There was a story in WW a few years ago about a survey of residents of apartments with little or no parking, 72% own a car and 66% park on the street. http://www.wweek.com/portland/blog-29452-apartments-without-parking-dont-equal-apartments-without-cars-says-city-study.html. This what is KILLING livability in densely populated areas.

TonyJ
Guest
TonyJ

Strange definition of livability isn’t it? If livability is only being able to park your car, then move where there are no people. I think that the reason there is a parking problem is that the place is EXTREMELY LIVABLE.

Active
Guest
Active

Yeah, it’s the old, “Nobody goes there anymore because it’s so crowded” situation!

Paul
Guest
Paul

They do now, but the numbers will go down over time. We need to build for the transportation mode share we want, not the transportation mode share we have.

Livability issues can be fixed by making it more expensive to have cars and park them on the street on the street, so that fewer people do it.

bjcefola
Guest

I think this raises a big question for city parking policy, and I hope they answer it. After all, they did research on raising the minimums in the first place for a problem which, however one might categorize its significance, was not a declared state of emergency. Surely the city can put the same effort into a problem, housing costs, which is.

Brian “BJ” Cefola

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Seems fairly obvious that omitting parking makes it cheaper to build an apartment building. Other factors may well have affected the $/sqft cost around that time, but with-parking/no-parking is certainly one of those factors.

But isn’t the real question whether the rent is lower in newly constructed no-parking apartment buildings versus in equivalent newly constructed with-parking apartment buildings? Is there non-circumstantial evidence for this?

Because the goal isn’t to enable greater profits for developers. The goal is to increase the rate of new apartment construction and to lower rents for tenants.

Neighborhoods (or at least some people in neighborhoods) oppose no-parking apartment buildings because the burden of providing parking for the tenants’ cars gets placed on the neighborhood, which includes the tenants themselves, as everyone drives in circles looking for parking. Instead of on the developers, who get to enjoy extra profits by off-loading that burden on the neighborhood.

bjcefola
Guest

At least one city commissioner lamented that recent housing construction has been “luxury”, and it’s an idea I see frequently in discussion of housing. I think higher construction costs bear directly on that, upscale units can more easily recover extra development costs.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

What developers want to build is not high cost or low cost units, but profitable units. As long as people are willing to pay high rents, landlord are going to charge high rents.

9watts
Subscriber

To me the most tiresome comments here on bikeportland are variations on the that’s just how it is line. This way of looking at the world skips over the fact that there are very specific, identifiable reasons why things are this way, and that we could—if we wanted—change them. But this defeatist/pragmatic line doesn’t admit this possibility.

Just because there are wealthy people who are only too eager to gobble up expensive condos or apartments or single family houses doesn’t mean that we should defer to *the market* when it comes to our housing policy, or that we couldn’t through financial instruments or other policies change the incentives or relative profitability of different styles of housing, etc.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

If you had some practical ideas of how to change the dynamics of the housing market, I would love to hear them — I don’t much like the way things are going any more than you do. For the record, I do NOT believe the housing market should determine our housing policy, though it may place constraints on what is possible.

9watts
Subscriber

Well you are familiar with one plank of my platform for tackling the present housing challenge: stop pretending that population growth/migration into the metro region is automatically salutary and/or inevitable. I don’t think it is either of these, and I think we’re unlikely to get a handle on this problem until we wrestle with the demand side of the equation as well.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I mostly agree with you, but can think of no workable solutions to address the issue.

9watts
Subscriber

I can think of a great many possible ways to proceed, but think it best if we were as a region to find ways to grapple with this collectively. My concern is that many feel similarly to you and because it seems difficult (it probably will be) they prefer to think about something else. But I don’t think avoiding this issue is a reasonable strategy.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

It is illegal for a state to prevent people from moving between states, or to penalize people for doing so (e.g. withholding benefits from recent arrivals). See constitutional right of freedom of movement, in the Privileges and Immunities clause of the US Constitution, and the numerous Supreme Court cases applying this.

In theory, perhaps a private business could decline to hire, or rent to, anyone who has recently moved into a state. I’m not sure, without doing done research, if this would be permissible. But why should said business do so?

9watts
Subscriber

And until last year it was illegal for gay people to marry….and two generations ago black people couldn’t use the same facilities as white people. Laws get overturned all the time, and sometimes this can be a salutary thing.

All I’m suggesting is that when constraints loom (that were unrecognized when a given law was passed) it may be time to revisit some of those laws and the thinking that led to them. The world is shrinking every day, and getting fuller. There’s no point in my view in dredging up the interstate commerce clause and related statutes as a way to shut down this conversation. Far more interesting and useful to interrogate what we might do about the present situation. Those who are being priced out of their houses and apartments right now aren’t served by this backward looking approach.

Adam
Subscriber

The effects of closing our doors to outsiders would have massive implications that I am not quite sure you have considered. I honestly can’t see any good coming from it.

9watts
Subscriber

that sort of simplification is a transparent attempt to make the conversation, the issue, go away. how about this – you read the Rockefeller Commission Report and get back to us. I linked to it just two weeks ago in response to a similar comment from you.

“After two years of concentrated effort, we have concluded that, in the long run, no substantial benefits will result from further growth of the Nation’s population, rather that the gradual stabilization of our population through voluntary means would contribute significantly to the Nation’s ability to solve its problems. We have looked for, and have not found, any convincing economic argument for continued population growth. The health of our country does not depend on it, nor does the vitality of business nor the welfare of the average person.”
http://history-matters.com/archive/contents/church/contents_church_reports_rockcomm.htm

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I don’t think the main objections are to the thesis that limiting population growth might be beneficial, but on whether it can be done on a regional (or urban) basis.

9watts
Subscriber

You may be right, but I’m pretty sure we have not yet had either conversation.

maccoinnich
Subscriber

According to the most recent census data, Oregon grew by 58,000 people, or 1.5 percent, from July 2014 to July 2015. Net in-migration accounted for 42,935 people, or almost three quarters of the growth. The population growth rate due to births exceeding deaths is very low.

I’m therefore not sure why it’s relevant to respond to someone who is pointing out that Oregon can’t legally stop people from move with a quote from a report that appears to be about the rate of natural population increase.

Adam
Subscriber

9watts: that report is over 40 years old. I question its relevance today, as it could not take into account advances in agriculture, energy, etc. that help sustain our current population.

9watts
Subscriber

I’ll tell you why I think it is relevant.

Because by refusing to have a CONVERSATION about population growth (all varieties) we just defer the inevitable reckoning, make it that much more painful. Right now our policies subsidize and encourage and reward in-migration and population growth, are premised on it continuing, and our economic system (so we tell ourselves) is dependent on it. We’re unlikely to make inroads on those fronts without first coming to terms with the scale and scope of the issue.

9watts
Subscriber

40 years(!) Well that is clearly out of date.
How about the constitution? Or The Clean Air Act? Are they also automatically obsolete?
Weird.

Adam
Subscriber

Well now that you mention it, yes the Constitution is out of date. Documents should be constantly re-evaluated and updated as needed, (in the spirit of the original intent, of course). This is why we pass amendments. Major amendments to the Clean Air Act were made in 1970, 1977 and 1990.

9watts
Subscriber

Except you didn’t suggest amending the Rockefeller Commission report, you dismissed its relevance before reading it. I’m all for wrestling with what the report’s conclusions were forty-some years ago, updating it, revising it if we were to determine that it could use it. But to dismiss it without reading it based on ‘agricultural advances’ suggests that you would benefit from reading the document to see if your critique is on point.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

There is a difference between granting rights and denying rights.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

How about instead of preventing new people from moving to Portland, we compel existing people to move away? That would be equally illegal, equally unfair, and equally effective at reducing housing pressures, so wouldn’t you be equally in favour of it? Or is this whole obsession with stopping in-migration really just another version of the grumpy old man yelling “get out of my yard”?

John Liu
Subscriber

And, by the way, I don’t think anyone is refusing to have a conversation about population pressures, but since you seem to be the person most interested in having said conversation, maybe it is up to you to facilitate having that conversation in a productive way?

Perhaps you should do a “guest post” in which you not only a) explain your goal to reduce in-migration, but also b) flesh out the actual facts behind what you call “policies subsidize and encourage and reward in-migration and population growth, are premised on it continuing, and our economic system (so we tell ourselves) is dependent on it”, and c) suggest some realistic and feasible actions that would accomplish your goal. Then we could have some substance to converse about.

I haven’t read everything you’ve posted, I don’t even read every thread here. But I don’t recall seeing such a post/thread. And it is a big and complex topic, so simply lobbing it into every comment thread about other topics isn’t the best way to make your point. In my opinion.

soren
Guest
soren

“the burden of providing parking for the tenants’ cars gets placed on the neighborhood”

city-subsidized parking is a burden? i would very much like the city to provide me with some similar “burdens”.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Many people do find the lack of on-street parking a burden. You can spin it how you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that they do find it a burden, and that it contributes to opposition to higher density in the inner-city.

Adam
Subscriber

This is why we need to make taking the bus or MAX more convenient than driving. Don’t want to deal with parking? Take the bus!

This requires not only expanding the MAX system, but improving bus headways to 5 minutes so that transfers are much less painful.

soren
Subscriber

the wait times for trimet LIFT are unacceptable during peak periods. a small progressive increase in income or property taxes would easily fund a dramatic improvement in transportation equity. i would enthusiastically pay those taxes. how about you?

Adam
Subscriber

LIFT is a massive money-suck. Costs per ride averaged $32.97 last month, vs. $2.46 for MAX and $3.16 for bus (source). However, LIFT is not only a federally-mandated service (through the ADA), it is an invaluable service for people who need it. Although, TriMet should be working on improving regular service for people currently using LIFT to take some burden off the expensive service. This includes expanding service and decreasing headways. I would certainly be in support of additional taxes to pay for this.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Personally, I would. Not sure how widespread that feeling is.

Daniel Keough, Urban Planning grad student, bicycle transportation advocate
Guest
Daniel Keough, Urban Planning grad student, bicycle transportation advocate

We don’t often see electricity shortages or water shortages (for much of the country, yet) because these commodities have a demand, but they also have a price a person pays to use them. Cities all over have the commodity of on-street parking, yet often only look at the demand when $x = $0. What would be the demand if you had curbside beer at $0, or if you had it at a higher price. The demand would be different.
The supply needed would not be as big of a concern if the parking was properly managed.

Daniel Keough, Urban Planning grad student, bicycle transportation advocate
Guest
Daniel Keough, Urban Planning grad student, bicycle transportation advocate

It isn’t the case that 100% of people drive, yet the people who pay rent or property taxes pay for the higher costs of off street parking that is required, while also paying the costs to build and maintain on street parking. Many pay these expenses while not receiving much, or really any benefit from this “High Price of Free Parking.”

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

If we wanted to reduce the cost of maintaining a street, could we simply ban parking on it? I would think reducing the “parking subsidy” would save money. Would a wider, more open street be an improvement? Or would it just encourage drivers to go faster?

9watts
Subscriber

I would think in that scenario it would make far more sense to
– install bioswales,
– widen the parking strip for green space/pervious surface
– sell the strip of land now vacated to adjacent homeowners with the stipulation that it become green space

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

That would basically require reconstruction of the street, no? Drainage, crossings, the actual digging things up, affected utilities, etc. Do you think this would really save money?

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Why not just sell the space as it currently is, without any additional work?

9watts
Subscriber

that was my third suggestion above. It would raise gobs of money.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Ah, I that was the third part of a 3-part series. If the point of the move is to reduce the cost of maintaining parking, why not sell it without stipulation?

9watts
Subscriber

My thinking was that you’d need to have some stipulation about use otherwise you’d leave yourself open to one property owner putting in a garage, the next a swimming pool and the third a bioswale in that annexed frontage. I’d think you’d want and perhaps need some more continguity.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I don’t think too many people would build a garage in the parking section of a road… it’s rather narrow. I think most people would use it to park their car.

Ripping up the street would be enormously expensive, far overwhelming any financial benefits to be gained by getting rid of it so it would no longer need to be maintained.

Adam
Subscriber

Just take a walk down 50th Avenue to see how lack of parking encourages speeding. 50th technically has a parking lane but it’s almost never used, so the travel lanes effectively become 20 feet wide, and this encourages people to drive too fast. You can see this on Foster Road as well. If the parking is not used, then the parking lane should be converted into a protected bike lane and the roadway narrowed.

dan
Guest
dan

John Liu
How about instead of preventing new people from moving to Portland, we compel existing people to move away? That would be equally illegal, equally unfair, and equally effective at reducing housing pressures, so wouldn’t you be equally in favour of it? Or is this whole obsession with stopping in-migration really just another version of the grumpy old man yelling “get out of my yard”?
Recommended 0

Good point John – and to a certain degree, that’s happening.

Brad Halverson
Guest
Brad Halverson

Good article. My frustration is that the parking impact of a new project on the existing neighborhood is probably the biggest issue. The Overlook Park Apartments are an especially problematic project. Yes, it now has 17 parking spots. That is good because there is no on-street parking to the south (the park and Interstate Ave next to the MAX station), the west (the park), and the east (Kaiser’s lots). That leaves the neighborhood to the north and some on Interstate Ave to the north for parking. I know no one has a right to public parking in front of their residence. Again, it is the impact of the change. Some other projects had on-street parking nearby. This particular one may require 2 to 3 block walks where that was not an issue previously. It will make it more difficult for the sports teams that often come from significant distances to use the park. I am hoping that the city will ask Kaiser to help out by allowing use of their West Interstate facility after hours. I would be dreaming to think they would allow parking for this new project after hours. It will be very interesting to see the impact when it opens. I hope it works, but I am not optimistic.