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City weighs parking rule for NW that could block a fifth of new homes

Posted by on July 5th, 2016 at 11:41 am

The Tess O’Brien Apartments on NW 19th and Pettygrove, built with no on-site parking, are the largest project that would have been illegal under a proposal going before city council tomorrow.
(Photo: Ted Timmons)

Portland’s City Council will meet Wednesday to consider a new mandatory parking requirement that, if it had existed for the last eight years, would have illegalized 23 percent of the new housing supply in northwest Portland during the period.

The Tess O’Brien Apartments, a 126-unit project that starts pre-leasing next week and will offer some of the cheapest new market-rate housing in northwest Portland, couldn’t have been built if they’d been required to have 42 on-site parking spaces, its developer said in an interview.

“Do the math,” Martin Kehoe of Portland LEEDS Living said Friday. “The apartments at the Tess O’Brien are between $1250 and $1400 a month. If we were required to build parking, you’d be between $1800 and $2000 a month. … It probably just wouldn’t have been built. And then what’s that going to do to the existing project that’s out there and has been built? It’s just going to drive the rents of those up.”

Kehoe said the Tess O’Brien units, which average 330 square feet, are intended for people who don’t own cars.

“We’ve got free bike parking rooms, you’re a block off the bus, you’re a block off streetcar, you’ve got access to Uber whenever you want it,” he said. “People who move into these apartments … they don’t have cars.”

The proposal up for debate on Wednesday would apply the same rule to the Northwest District, immediately west of Interstate 405, that applies in other neighborhoods outside the central city: buildings with 31 to 40 homes would need at least one parking space for every five units. Buildings with 41 to 50 homes would need one space for every four units. Buildings with 51 or more homes would need one space for every three units.

Mandatory parking minimums would have driven up the construction cost of 305 new homes built in northwest Portland since 2008.

Including the Tess O’Brien Apartments, those mandatory parking minimums would have driven up the construction cost of 305 new homes built in northwest Portland since 2008, city data show, potentially by enough to kill the five new buildings in question. That’s 23 percent of the 1,339 units that were added to northwest by buildings of 10 or more units.

For comparison’s sake, if those 305 new no-parking homes were in a single building, it would have been the sixth largest built in Portland since at least 2000. The largest new building in the Lloyd District, for example, added 337 units to the city’s housing supply.

But most new homes in northwest Portland are in buildings where developers opted to build more than the minimum amount of parking, usually much more, suggesting that new no-parking buildings are a niche market in the Northwest District.

‘We certainly should have the option of no parking’

Buildings marked in orange would have been illegal under the proposed new rule.
(Data: Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Chart: BikePortland.)

Portland rental vacancy rates have been below 5 percent since 2008. Last year, monthly rent in the average apartment rose $100, with hikes concentrated mostly in older units. In April, the local Barry Apartment Construction Report saw housing supply finally keeping up with demand (a trend confirmed by May Census figures) but still not increasing fast enough for a significant rise in vacancies.

Local home purchase prices, too, have been rising at the fastest rates in the nation.

“It won’t end until we have more balance between supply and demand in the housing market,” University of Oregon economist Tim Duy told The Oregonian last week.

“Demand is severely outpacing supply,” the news report said.

Margot Black, an organizer for the advocacy group Portland Tenants United speaking for herself, said in an interview Monday that she’d spoken with Portland Commissioner Steve Novick last week to oppose new parking minimums in northwest.

“Right now, we should not be doing anything that restricts supply and increases prices,” said Black. “We certainly should have the option of no parking if that means we could have more units at a lower price.”

Parking advisory committee: Every building brings more cars

2018 NW Everett Street.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The proposal to bring parking minimums to the Northwest District comes from the volunteer Northwest Portland Parking Stakeholder Advisory Committee.

“At least half of our committee did not use to support parking minimums,” said Rick Michaelson, who chairs that committee and supports minimums. “We see that the transit system has not expanded rapidly.”

Michaelson said that even in the Footprint apartments, another 50-unit microapartment building in northwest, 16 units have signed up for street parking permits.

“We’re going to see a minimum of 30 percent even for these microapartments,” he said. “We think it’s a fairness issue. We think we need as many opportunities to get the system in balance and make sure that everybody contributes to the parking infrastructure.”

“9700 parking permits have been issued that are competing for the 4100 spaces.”
— Karen Karlsson, NW Portland Parking Stakeholder Advisory Committee

Michaelson predicted that city rates for street parking will go up, which will lead to more demand for off-street parking in the future. He also said a project similar to Tess O’Brien might have penciled out even with 42 on-site parking spaces.

“Some developers are choosing to have parking without affecting the bottom line,” he said.

Michaelson said his committee had discussed other ideas for affordability such as not counting below-market-rate units toward a building’s total, or exempting buildings that offer free TriMet passes to residents.

Karen Karlsson, who also serves on the committee, said her “bottom line” is that “9700 parking permits have been issued that are competing for the 4100 spaces.”

“We really need to find a way to help balance the supply and reduce the demand,” she said. “We need every tool that we can get.”


Council will hold hearing Wednesday and may vote

Portland City Council

Portland City Council: Steve Novick, Amanda Fritz, Charlie Hales, Dan Saltzman and Nick Fish.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Portland Commissioner Steve Novick said Friday that because he assumes “markets operate like markets,” requiring on-site parking in buildings in transit-oriented neighborhoods does tend to drive up housing costs by reducing the supply of new housing.

But Novick said he is considering support for a new parking minimum anyway, at least in the short term, because minimums already exist in most of the city.

“I generally am not excited about constructing lots of new parking,” Novick said. “I don’t think we should continue to build society around the car if we are going to take our climate goals seriously. [But] I am much more sympathetic when folks come from a neighborhood that has meters, has a permit system, has a fair amount of density, and say ‘Hey, we want to be treated the way other folks are treated.'”

The central city, which includes the Pearl District in inner northwest, doesn’t have parking minimums. As in northwest, developers there usually opt to include on-site parking as an amenity for residents who choose to pay extra for it.

Most of the buildings that define northwest Portland were built before the city’s first parking requirements.

But many older apartments and condos in northwest Portland, maybe even most of them, have zero on-site parking. That’s because most of the buildings that define northwest Portland were built before the city’s first parking requirements, which probably date to the 1950s.

In fact, one older apartment building in the district without on-site parking belongs to Michaelson’s real estate company.

For the second half of the 20th century, most new apartment and condo buildings in Portland had garages or parking lots attached. In 2000 the city council, led by then-Commissioner Charlie Hales, eliminated parking minimums for units close to frequent-service transit lines. Starting in 2008, as Portland’s rents began their recent climb, some developers began to secure loans for buildings without on-site parking.

In most of those buildings around Portland’s east side, half or more of households in the no-parking buildings owned at least one car. That meant parking spillover, which led to a backlash from some neighbors.

In 2013, Hales (newly elected as mayor) led approval of what he described as a stopgap measure to require parking at most new buildings of 30 units or more, even if they were within a block of a frequent transit line. But there was one exception: the Northwest District, which was already in the midst of a parking reform program.

Demand-based parking group organizing opposition to rule

Parking excavation beneath the future Park Avenue West tower downtown.
(Photo: GRI.com)

In the three years when many apartment buildings in Portland were being constructed without parking, from 2011 through 2013, average construction costs per apartment fell even though construction costs for other units didn’t.

Then, after parking minimums were reinstated for most transit-oriented buildings in 2013, average construction costs per apartment shot back up even though construction costs for other units didn’t.

Tony Jordan of the group PDX Shoupistas, which advocates for demand-based parking policy, found that the number of buildings going up in Portland with exactly 30 units — the maximum size a transit-oriented building can be in most of the city without triggering parking minimums — is apparently about to soar. There are currently 14 such buildings in development, he calculated last week.

According to city permit data obtained by BikePortland under state open records rules, that compares to eight such buildings over the last 15 years.

Jordan is organizing people to contact the city council Tuesday and/or testify on Wednesday to oppose new minimums.

“In times like this, proposals which curtail the supply of new housing and increase rents should be dead on arrival,” Jordan wrote Monday. “A vote for minimum parking requirements is a vote to make the housing crisis worse.”

Novick says citywide reform is an option, but not yet

New homes on Southeast Ankeny Street, built with an on-site garage.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

In an interview Friday, Joan Frederiksen of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability said the city staff does not see a “tradeoff” between space for parking and space for people.

“I wouldn’t use the word tradeoff,” she said. “I think it’s more about balancing. … With this project we are echoing the direction council provided back in 2013, finding that balance between parking and affordability.”

Matt Grumm, a senior policy manager for Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman, put things differently.

“There’s no doubt that these are tradeoffs,” he said. “Parking minimums potentially increase the cost of that housing.”

Grumm said his boss would “wait for the hearing” before deciding how to vote but suggested that maybe developers who opt to include below-market-rate units in their buildings should get a break on parking requirements.

“It’ll be interesting to see if that gets any traction,” he said.

In an email last week, Hales spokeswoman Sara Hottman said the mayor supports the proposal to “extend the City’s minimum parking requirements to the Northwest Plan district.”

There are two other votes on the council: Nick Fish, who proposed the 2013 parking minimums that were passed into code, and Amanda Fritz.

Both Novick and Frederiksen suggested that the city might consider amending its citywide parking minimums at some point in the future.

“Even if we wind up applying parking minimums in northwest next week, I’m really encouraged that I’ve been hearing people opposing parking minimums,” Novick said. “Once we have those new tools available, one option is to revisit the parking minimum requirements throughout the city.”

Novick didn’t respond to a question about when the council is likely to consider his proposal that would let neighborhoods create their own parking permit districts.

Eudaly: “We must start decreasing our reliance on the personal automobile”

NW Portland Week - Day 5-24.jpg

Parking outside the Clearing Cafe on NW Thurman.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Chloe Eudaly, who is running on a housing-affordability platform to replace Novick on the city council, said in an email Monday that she opposes new minimums:

Portland is going through growing pains right now and traffic congestion and parking are high on the list of concerns, but what’s even higher is housing affordability. So when we’re talking about a policy that would increase the cost of housing and decrease the number of units built, such as minimum parking standards for new multi-family developments, we need to consider our options and their impacts very carefully.

I respect the work of the NW Parking SAC, as an almost 20-year former resident of NW Portland I know what a headache parking has become in the area, but I don’t support their proposal of a blanket minimum parking standard for all new multi-dwelling developments of more than 30 units. Knowing that these spaces are likely to be underutilized in many developments and that we must start decreasing our reliance on the personal automobile, I believe we can and must come up with a more nuanced approach, especially in a neighborhood that is so central, dense, and transit-friendly (many NW residents live within 10 blocks of the street car, Max, AND a bus line).

Instead of requiring more parking space, Eudaly suggested requiring developers to offer bus passes, bike-share or car-share memberships, creating shared parking options, and raising on-street permit prices “to more closely reflect the actual cost of providing street parking.”

Other options she suggested included shared parking garages and a “live where you work” program. She, too, suggested a parking exemption for developers that include below-market-rate units.

Black, the tenants organizer, said Portland is facing a difficult transition away from a “small town” where most trips happen by car and most homes have private yards, driveways and “a picket fence.”

“It’s great if you got it, but it’s mathematically impossible for all of us to have it,” she said. “I see Portland really struggling to make this shift into a city from this small-town feel. … We need to shepherd Portland through that paradigm shift.”

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org. The Real Estate Beat is a regular column. You can sign up to get an email of Real Estate Beat posts (and nothing else) here, or read past installments here.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 11:46 am

    The sad thing about this for me is that if residents could find a way to live without a car, this whole issue would just go away.

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    • soren July 5, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      And once again undemocratic neighborhood homeowner associations champion regressive policy that discriminates against tenants.


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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 12:57 pm

        What really gets me is they discriminate against people who choose not to participate! Damn them and their hostility to the apathetic!

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        • maccoinnich July 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm

          Snark all you want, but they also chose not to take the opinions of any members of NWDA transportation committee into account. It’s not accurate to frame this as if everyone who is active in the neighborhood is on one side of the issue.

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          • buildwithjoe July 5, 2016 at 1:53 pm

            This agenda item came last minute from Hales office via staff in the Sustainability Dept, which setup a biased volunteer group to blame for the agenda item. It puts parking before people. I’ve posted tips for sending in comments if you can’t attend the 2pm meeting this wed. And ways to help candidates who will use pitchforks to evict our money driven city council.


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            • buildwithjoe July 5, 2016 at 3:45 pm

              > I just called Novick and they don’t know how he will vote. Oh my. People are being gamed by Hales and Transportation Commissioner Novick. Try it… >

              Call (503) 823-4682 and ask if they will vote no or yes on this. Staff won’t say where they stand. These 5 lawmakers have had years to form a position on parking or people. Parked cars block pedestrian visibility at corners. City parking fees are lowered to promote driving alone. Parking permit reforms to curb driving in other cities are ignored by Portland.

              The city is driving backwards over your bodies Wednesday at 2pm and it’s time to do a citizen arrest on the lawmakers and money that buys them.

              Why are #visionZero activists always playing defense?

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        • soren July 5, 2016 at 4:35 pm

          It’s nice to see you acknowledge that neighborhood associations have traditionally been hostile to tenants but I think you confuse intentional lack of outreach with apathy.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 7:02 pm

            I’m sure more NAs would love to have help with outreach. Are you offering?

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            • soren July 5, 2016 at 10:52 pm


              A History of Exclusion

              The broader context for the DCL program is a history of racism and exclusion in Portland and throughout Oregon.1 The legacy of discrimination has left its imprint on Portland’s modern era of land use planning, urban development, infrastructure investment, and public policymaking. While it is uncomfortable for many of today’s Portlanders to see their city in this light, the enduring impact of our shared past is still felt by many in the community and is well documented.2

              While Portland’s neighborhood system is rightly celebrated nationwide for its progressive approach to public involvement since the 1970’s, leaders in Portland’s non-geographically based communities have pointed to the system’s limitations. Community advocates’ experience and expression of the legacy of exclusion and discrimination takes many forms:

              *Not feeling heard and not being at the table when decisions are made;
              *Government approaches to engagement reflect dominant cultural attitudes;
              *Frustration when City officials say, “We invited them but they did not come,” because this fails to account for barriers to participation and the need to engage diverse communities in different ways;
              *A sense of tokenism when a person of color is asked to serve on a City committee to fulfill diversity requirements;
              *The dilemma of tolerating a broken system in order to gain access vs. working to change it;
              *The choice of whether to do multicultural or ethnic specific organizing;
              *The lack of City preparedness to work with people from many countries who speak many languages;
              *The absence of public voice for community members who are not citizens;
              *Historical trauma experienced by communities, resulting in mistrust, fear and a sense that it is not safe or rewarding to engage with government.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 6, 2016 at 12:09 am

                What I don’t see on that list are any practical solutions for improving the system.

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              • soren July 6, 2016 at 9:26 am

                Neighborhood associations and ONI have a continuing legacy of exclusion and discrimination. The best way to improve the system would be to shut ONI down.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. July 6, 2016 at 9:40 am

                A ward-based city council would help immensely. Make the neighborhood hold democratic vote-by-mail elections to vote in their Alderman or Alderwoman. The Alder would also be held accountable by the neighborhood voters and the mayor.

                As it stands now, NA’s don’t do vote by mail or even allow absentee balloting, forcing people wanting to vote to show up within a single two-hour window on a weekday evening. Is it any wonder why NA’s have less than 1% voter turnout?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 6, 2016 at 9:53 am

                The funny thing is you guys seen to think the NAs actually have any real power. Soren, I hope you call out and report specific cases of discrimination when you see it.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. July 6, 2016 at 9:57 am

                The city absolutely does take the NA’s stance seriously when making decisions. Although typically they do so selectively when it benefits City Council. There has also been discussion that the NA’s will be responsible for issuing parking permits once the program rolls out.

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              • TonyJ July 6, 2016 at 10:15 am

                Neighborhood Associations don’t have much power to push for new policy (the gas pedal doesn’t work well), but they sure can stop policy dead in it’s tracks (the brakes work great).

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 6, 2016 at 10:30 am

                NAs currently need to “approve” new parking zones in residential areas, though they are initiated by residents themselves, and approved by a vote (by mail) of the affected residents, with minimum criteria for participation and yes-voting, before such a zone is implemented by the city. This is one of the few areas where NAs have some power (of the brakes, as you say, TonyJ). And yes, the council does listen (selectively), just as they do with any other organized group.

                Maybe what Portland needs is a New England style town meeting government, where each neighborhood would elect (by mail) a representative, who would have a vote on the council, replacing the current city council. It would be messy, and would probably result in policies those on this board would oppose, but it would be more directly democratic than our current system of council.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. July 6, 2016 at 10:50 am

                Maybe what Portland needs is a New England style town meeting government, where each neighborhood would elect (by mail) a representative, who would have a vote on the council, replacing the current city council. It would be messy, and would probably result in policies those on this board would oppose, but it would be more directly democratic than our current system of council.

                What you’re describing is a ward-based system, which basically every other city the size of Portland or larger uses. Portland’s at-large system just isn’t cutting it – we need to move to a ward system that actually gives neighborhoods outside the West Hills and Eastmoreland representation.

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              • q July 6, 2016 at 11:11 am

                One improvement I’d like to see is more direct communication between the City and residents. Instead of doing that, the City contacts NAs, then views its responsibility of informing the public about a project or issue as complete. Then the NA volunteers either make a decision for other residents to ignore the notice, or take a position they may think is representative but isn’t, or want to do further outreach but as volunteers can’t do it well…

                Meanwhile, the person who can’t attend every NA meeting and committee meeting never hears anything until it’s too late, and bad decisions get made. And all this happens even if everyone is well-intentioned.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 6, 2016 at 11:19 am

                With such a system, you would never see parking restrictions.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. July 5, 2016 at 1:01 pm

        I actively participate in my Neighborhood Association and still feel shut out of the process. Very little time is actually left for public comment, and the times that are allowed often get taken over by angry, screaming neighbors. With voter turnout less than 1% and meetings structured to only allow input from board members who vote in blocs anyway, how can NA’s claim to be even remotely democratic?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 1:04 pm

          Maybe yours is not run well?

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. July 5, 2016 at 1:08 pm

            I’d say the fact that many people on the board joined solely to oppose new development on Division is a primary reason for the constant contention. Our current chair does a great job keeping the peace, though.

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            • David Hampsten July 5, 2016 at 2:16 pm

              Why don’t you and your friends get elected to the board? It’s not hard.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. July 5, 2016 at 5:01 pm

                Harder than you’d think in my neighborhood. It’s no longer the case that everyone who bothers to show up gets to be on the board.

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              • Terry D-M July 6, 2016 at 10:35 am

                They had a contested election……with staff from Se Uplift counting the ballots, from what I have heard, there is a running off as five individuals qualified for two slots.

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            • dan July 5, 2016 at 2:26 pm

              That’s why I’d join…

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          • Terry D-M July 6, 2016 at 10:27 am

            His has some of the best attendance in SE Uplift, though there has been some controversy recently. The NA coalitions and system due a lot of good work, which should not be minimized, but it is extremely difficult to do proper outreach to renters. We have very limited budgets for mailings and by state law though all meeting are public, votes have to be help either in person for via phone/video.

            Thus those who work swing or evening shifts are excluded and the dominant demographic of volunteers are those with time: the retired, disabled in some way or married with a spouse with income.

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            • soren July 6, 2016 at 10:40 pm

              Although I opposed ONI and the current NA system based on my political convictions, I’d be an idiot if I also did not pragmatically support and recognize the efforts of people like you…Terry.

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  • Buzz July 5, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Second pic actually shows parking beneath Director’s Park, not Park Avenue West tower.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 5, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      Immediately next to the tower, funded by the tower developer and used by tower tenants, though, so I think “below” is accurate.

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  • maccoinnich July 5, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    So Hales has reversed his opinion on the matter since March?

    “She says this isn’t a reversal for Hales, because he wanted the parking requirements expanded only in the corridors where he voted to add them in 2013.

    “Mayor Hales has not changed his view,” Hottman says. “He can’t justify adding more parking for multidwelling development if it will potentially drive up the cost of housing, or incentivize car use in an already walkable, transit-rich area.” ”

    From http://www.wweek.com/uncategorized/2016/03/23/has-portland-city-hall-learned-its-lesson-about-parking-spaces-raising-rents/

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. July 5, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Our city council is absolutely spineless. They don’t plan for the future – instead they’d prefer to cave to every NIMBY complaint that comes before them. Instead, listen to the Bureau that is tasked to plan for the future and heed their advice not to require parking!

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  • Mark Smith July 5, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Let the free market handle parking.

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 5, 2016 at 12:24 pm

      Amen. If parking is such a big deal, developers who don’t include parking will know about it when their units stay empty. That doesn’t seem to be happening.

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      • alankessler July 5, 2016 at 12:55 pm

        This isn’t quite a fair critique. The status quo is that residents can get street parking permits (a.k.a. hunting licenses) at a nominal price. Developers are able to capture the value of those parking passes in sales prices or in rent. In order to unbundle parking and subject developers to market forces, we need to charge a market rate for all city-owned parking (off-street and on-).

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      • lop July 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm

        The parking requirement is for existing residents, to avoid or at least reduce the increased competition for street parking. If that’s necessary to get local support for development, and local support is necessary for development to take place then it’s an issue to address. Compromise – developers can build without parking but they have to provide bike parking or transit passes to residents for twenty years and pay the city a fee to help cover the cost of non automotive transportation improvements, and the building’s residents are limited to X area parking permits combined. The property manager can be responsible for distributing them.

        Increasing constructions costs does not lead to a dollar for dollar increase in housing costs, or the rent equivalent. Housing costs are determined by the intersection of supply and demand curves. Demand isn’t really affected by parking requirements. Supply is old supply plus new supply. New supply is determined by zoning, price/availability of land, construction/regulatory costs etc…parking requirements or an alternative bike+transit+fee system increase costs. Land price isn’t static, if you reduce the spread between rent and construction cost by increasing the latter you decrease the demand for land, which can lower land prices. The end result is that with high land prices regulatory requirements like this might impact supply and prices less than you think. A solid study predicting the impact of the policy change should take place before a vote.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 1:10 pm

          I much prefer the simpler model where anything I don’t like increases the cost of housing in Portland.

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        • Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 5, 2016 at 1:10 pm

          It’s more complex than supply and demand; in this case, developers claim there’s a very thin margin of profitability (even with high demand and prices). That implies that the costs are an important part of the final price.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 1:13 pm

            Would a developer with lower costs really pass those on to renters/buyers if they could instead pocket the savings? I know what develpers say, but it’s less clear if that’s what they do in the end.

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            • TonyJ July 5, 2016 at 1:22 pm

              You re right, they don’t pass it through. So perhaps instead of expanding a broken policy, the city should be allowing developers who currently have minimum parking requirements to reduce them to zero by building affordable housing or paying in-lieu fees for affordable housing.

              I have been increasingly careful not to say that the parking increases rent. It increases the costs. But more nefariously, it reduces supply and that is pretty hard to contest and might be worse in our current housing climate.

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            • Buzz July 5, 2016 at 1:33 pm

              I remember going to meetings with developers about required bike parking back in the 90s and some developers actually claimed the banks wouldn’t loan them money for the project if it included ‘unnecessary’ bike parking.

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          • lop July 5, 2016 at 5:42 pm

            Portland land prices have been skyrocketing, and a lot of wealth is flowing out of the city whenever someone sells their property and moves away. This includes out of state land speculators. Is public policy maximizing land prices and that outflow of wealth in the best interest of the city? Putting aside for the moment the parking issue, Portland has done a terrible job of getting a cut of appreciating land values. If I’m wrong and no parking apartments won’t lead to local backlash, with the increased local opposition leading to less development and higher prices in the long run, then the city could find any of a myriad of other uses for revenue captured from increasing land prices by increasing regulatory costs. New parks, bike paths, environmental cleanups, subsidized housing, new transit line capital build outs etc…and any other sort of ‘one off’ capital expense you can think of.

            Who are developers – builders, land owners, or both?

            >>developers claim there’s a very thin margin of profitability

            Increased regulatory costs lower land prices. Those developers are either assuming a static value for land, which is unlikely to be true. Or they are speaking as land owners, not builders. Will they sit on their hands paying interest on the land they bought hoping rents will appreciate to make up for the increased costs? Or will they take a loss and build what they can today? Depending on when they bought the land, that loss may better be described as a lower profit than they expected. And if they are intent on sitting on their hands then the city can reform it’s property tax system – tax land alone, not the buildings on top of it.

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        • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
          Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 5, 2016 at 1:10 pm

          A few years ago the city did conduct a study of the direct construction costs of parking garages, but it hasn’t attempted the analysis you mention of the indirect costs to consumers as filtered through the housing market.

          Seems to me that another factor is that construction costs for new homes put a de facto price ceiling on the rents that nearby older homes can command. The lower those construction costs, the lower that ceiling, regardless of the overall supply/demand levels. Or am I all wet?

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          • David Hampsten July 5, 2016 at 2:22 pm

            I still don’t know what developers are actually complaining about. Most big cities outside of Portland and San Fran require on-site parking that is much higher than what is being proposed. Building costs are no higher in Portland than they are in LA. What’s the issue? Is Portland so much that more profitable than other places?

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            • Evan Manvel July 6, 2016 at 8:30 am

              The affordable housing advocates, transportation choice and equity advocates, and others are doing the complaining – not just developers.

              We’re complaining about subsidizing driving, about forcing those without cars to pay for those with cars, about making housing less affordable because we require housing cars instead of people, and soforth.

              If we care about global warming pollution, equity, and housing affordability, there’s no reason we should be mandating car storage with housing. Let the market serve those with cars with car storage. Required parking can boost housing costs 13-25%.

              Just because other cities also screw this up doesn’t mean Portland has to.

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              • Matt S. July 6, 2016 at 9:41 am

                I predict developers build housing without parking structures that cost the same even if they did have parking structures in place. This idea that developers will make housing cheaper is absurd, they’ll squeeze whatever profit they can. People will move in with cars and increase curbside parking. The city will do nothing just like they are with the homeless situation. Traffic will continue to increase, safety will continue to fall for cyclists.

                I hope not…

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          • lop July 5, 2016 at 6:06 pm

            You could build a pretty nice large house for 250-300k, even counting the city’s development fees in that price. I don’t see many nice large houses that cheap in inner Portland.

            > construction costs for new homes put a de facto price ceiling on the rents

            The cost of land + construction (materials/labor) + regulatory costs + interest + profit; in other words the total cost of development – puts a ceiling on rents with some lag to account for the timeline of development. And the combination of projected rents, projected construction, and interest rates determine what a developer would pay for a piece of land. The demand for other uses of the land might be unaffected by increased parking requirements/fee alternatives – for example if you’re looking at the potential to redevelop a series of lots which already have a few houses on them, regulatory costs might decrease the value of the land for a developer from X to X-Y. If someone who wanted to live in the house was willing to pay less than X but more than X-Y before the increased regulatory costs it wouldn’t be affected directly. Supply can be affected, someone who bought a house with a mortgage and currently owes X might be willing to sell to a developer for X+Y. But if regulatory costs lower the price the developer is willing to pay to X-Z, the homeowner will likely stay where they are. Not because they’re expecting land to appreciate, but because they’d have a reduced ability to buy elsewhere if they have to take a loss on the sale. Increased regulatory costs might lead to lower development and put upward pressure on prices. Prices are determined by a bunch of variables, some of which are dependent on each other. You can’t accurately assess the effect changing one variable would have on the final price using a static model.

            A solid study of the issue would inform better public policy. My hunch is that in some inner areas the city could hike regulatory costs significantly without putting much if any upward pressure on rents over the long run, though to minimize transient effects on rents the costs might have to be phased in over a period of years. In outer areas where the spread between rents and the cost of construction (material/labor) + existing development fees + interest is smaller or negative increased regulatory capture would reduce development and put upward pressure on prices. That’s okay, a single citywide policy isn’t necessary.

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    • Dan July 5, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      Yes, but don’t let street parking become a subsidy to developers either. Street parking permits in NW Portland should be priced comparably to private lots / parking (maybe at a slight discount due to less convenience). Then the free market could handle parking appropriately.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 1:01 pm

        On-street parking spots should be auctioned — let a real market mechanism prevail. More desirable spots will go for more, less convenient ones for less.

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  • rick July 5, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Build trails and protected bike lanes ! Not empty garages !

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      Every new building should be required to have at least one bike trail somewhere on the premises.

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      • axoplasm July 5, 2016 at 1:01 pm

        Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter

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      • rick July 5, 2016 at 2:00 pm

        Note the apartment proposed for SW Broadway near OHSU. The developer reportedly doesn’t want to build a trail to safely connect people to Portland’s largest employer. Check the part for SWHRL.

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  • briandavispdx July 5, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Great article, Michael, thank you for covering this. I think your reporting has unearthed a good bit of cognitive dissonance among council members on this topic. This quote from Novick is particularly revealing: “Once we have those new tools available, one option is to revisit the parking minimum requirements throughout the city.”

    As luck would have it, these tools are not only available, but one of the most creative, robust suites of management tools anywhere in the country was rolled out in NW Portland only recently. Key pieces are an expansion of residential permit parking, implementation of metering, and most unique of all, a hybrid permit-metered area where guests feed the meter but local residents and workers are exempted with purchase of an annual permit. It’s a great way to try to manage the pieces of competing demand in NW Portland.

    So what have these tools done? Well, nobody knows yet. The paint is barely dry on the new meters, and people are still adjusting to the new management. By the end of the year, we should have a solid, data-driven understanding of what the management changes accomplished. Perhaps it will indeed point to the necessity of new supply. Or perhaps it will point to other mitigations that might be effective yet more in line with the City’s other goals; addressing the fact that we’ve sold 8,000+ Zone M permits at $60 annually for 6,184 spaces might be a good starting point.

    For a city that fancies its decision-making as a logical, data-driven process, it is hypocritically premature to instate parking minimums without the slightest clue what effects existing management strategies are having. Particularly given that the planning commission has already recommended against this, it is clear that the politicians need to step aside here and let the nerds do their thing. Council has clearly not thought this through. It should defer to the planning commission accordingly.

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  • buildwithjoe July 5, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Several action items here

    a) Show up Wednesday 7/6 at 1pm to sign up for the 2pm meeting or call Hales (503) 823-4120 SW Madison and 4th.

    b) post your testimony here and send to cctestimony@portlandoregon.gov

    c) Ask joan.Frederiksen@portlandoregon.gov She’s put this on the agenda with Hales. That’s ironic for her dept.

    d) Evict Novick by donating to Chloe who opposes him on on the Nov Ballot. He should oppose this instantly if he cares about making streets safe. He cares more about parked cars than #visionzero


    e) Read the proposal


    f) Run for office, Portland lacks true environmentalists. We could fix so many things for zero dollars or the cost of paint and signs. So much wrong with Novick and the establishment. So many great things about his November Election opponent Chloe (Rent Control )

    g) Like my Facebook Election page. I need likes more than money. My opponent in November is Tina CRC Freeay Kotek. She voted yes to save Monsanto along with every Republican in Salem She appointed the house committee controlling transporation, and not one member lives in Portland or lives/dies on transit. They all drive in live in sprawl. That’s the direction we are headed if you don’t take some actions here.


    the end..

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  • Bike Guy July 5, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    People in NW own cars. They park them on the street. Street parking is a public good. Cars on streets are externalities of private development.

    Keep fighting for Marty Kehoe and the developer’s lobby! They enjoy the free advocacy.

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    • Nate July 5, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      Not to be that guy, but street parking is not a public good by any reasonable definition. To be a public good a thing must both be non-rivalrous and non-excludable.

      Aka, with a typical public good your use of it does not make it impossible for me to use or reduce my use. That describes air. It does not describe a street parking space.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 7:09 pm

        If I cook my dinner over a bonfire of railroad ties, tires, treated wood, and PVC pipes upwind of your house, I suspect you’d find that air can be both rivalrous and excludable.

        Just ask the neighbors of Bullseye!

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    • TonyJ July 5, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      Maybe you should write in and suggest an in-lieu of fee for affordable housing to buy their way out of parking requirements. Then we can all win.

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      • JeffS July 5, 2016 at 2:31 pm

        That solves nothing.

        If you’re going to claim that you have a parking problem, you need to address the parking problem, be that through minimums, permits, increasing permit fees, etc.

        Establishing the minimum, then letting builders buy their way out of them tells me that you didn’t REALLY care about the parking “problem” in the first place, you just wanted another tool with which to influence housing policy.

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        • TonyJ July 5, 2016 at 2:50 pm

          Sorry, JeffS, I was just making a suggestion to this other person.

          I am opposed to all minimum parking requirements and, likely, the main proponent in the city for other parking management policies.

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        • Buzz July 5, 2016 at 4:00 pm

          The City allows developers to pay a fee and opt out of providing bike parking on-site, and the City then provides bike parking in the ROW for the development.

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          • JeffS July 5, 2016 at 8:36 pm

            You’re not implying that is a comparable situation are you?

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    • Chris I July 5, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      They only own cars because they have somewhere to park them for free. If the city changes policy and removes street parking, those cars have nowhere to go. NW is in this situation because the city is giving away valuable real estate for free, exclusively for the use of private vehicle storage.

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      • Social Engineer July 5, 2016 at 2:25 pm

        It’s not free in most of Northwest District anymore. Just ridiculously cheap.

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      • Bike Guy July 5, 2016 at 3:22 pm

        Tell me how you don’t agree with me, then. Make the developers bear the cost of car storage.

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        • Chris I July 6, 2016 at 6:52 am

          If the city doesn’t give away or underprice parking, then the developers will build off street parking if it is needed, because the market will demand it. Right now, few tenants are willing to pay for off-street spots, because they can hunt a bit and find very very cheap parking on the street. The street parking is the root of the problem.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 5, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      If you want to get technical, street parking is a private good that happens to be owned by the public, which at least to me means it should be priced — just like a kilowatt-hour of electricity or a glass of water or a hangar space at Portland Airport.

      Those things are public property but they’re not public goods. If we gave them away for free, we’d run out of them, too.

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      • paul g July 6, 2016 at 9:40 am


        That’s not exactly the right comparison. Most of what you describe in your list are private goods that are regulated as utilities, so public entities regulate the profit margin (water is a publicly owned utility in Portland).

        Those are very complex markets to evaluate, and setting the profit recovery rate is always politically problematic. Street parking is not controlled by a private entity and because parking maintenance is wrapped up in larger infrastructure, it’s going to be difficult to parse them out.

        PM me, I can connect you to some folks who might be able to provide some basic lit to help sort through the issue. I’m not an expert, others are. gronkep@reed.edu

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  • Asher M July 5, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Great, comprehensive article!

    Here’s a great compromise solution that’s been implemented elsewhere: Forbid tenants of the 30+ unit new apartments from obtaining street parking passes.

    That prevents the parking overflow problem; on-site parking, if it’s built at all, will come at a steep premium. New residents would be increasingly less likely to get around by car most of the time, reducing their contribution to traffic. And they’d shore up local businesses, with their presence and their savings on their lack of parking and a car.

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    • Chris I July 5, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      You must live in the neighborhood and park your car on the street for free. What you are proposing sounds unconstitutional, and it is terrible public policy.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 3:04 pm

        Why is it so bad to say those who choose to live in housing where the developer opted out of providing parking should not park their cars on the street? It seems that that requirement would lower the value (and hence the rents) of apartments that fall under that requirement, thus providing cheaper rents to those who choose not to drive. It seems to me that the tenants would be the winners under such a policy — essentially getting reduced rent in exchange for not owning a car.

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        • Chris I July 5, 2016 at 3:19 pm

          It is unconstitutional unless you also apply that policy to existing residents. Tenant A rents in a 100-year old building and gets a street parking pass, and tenant B rents in a 1 year-old building and does not. How is that fair?

          “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 3:27 pm

            I’m not sure I accept your constitutional argument. Is it fair? I’d say so, if everyone is aware of the rules going in. You can always rent in a 100 year old building if you have a car and need to park it on the street. Or in a building that had parking available.

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            • Chris I July 6, 2016 at 6:55 am

              Totally fair, provided you already “got yours”. The NIMBY attitudes around here are sickening. I say this as a Portland native and 30-year resident.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 6, 2016 at 9:42 am

                Anyone could “get theirs” as well. Everyone is on an equal footing. It’s actually a pretty good idea for how to move carless development forward, without resorting to baseless name-calling.

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          • q July 6, 2016 at 9:50 am

            Chris–your description doesn’t match what’s being proposed. More accurately, Tenant A rents in a existing building and gets a street parking pass, which he pays for. Tenant B rents in a 1-year-old building and doesn’t want a street pass, so he doesn’t pay for one. Tenant C rents in another 1-year-old building, and gets the same street parking pass as Tenant A, for the same price Tenant A paid.

            I don’t see what’s “unconstitutional” about that.

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            • q July 6, 2016 at 1:17 pm

              Oops–I was aiming my comment at the proposal where there’s a voluntary choice by the developer and tenants to have a parking-free building.

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      • Gary B July 6, 2016 at 12:47 pm

        It is definitely not unconstitutional, and I’d argue it’s a promising policy. I won’t bother to address the former unless you can actually construct a convincing argument. (Note: the P&I clause you quote below is not an argument.)

        As to the policy: You establish parking minimums and zone parking comprehensively across the city. You allot zone parking permits in an equitable system to current properties. You allow/establish a system for transferring those permits. For redevelopment of those properties, you then allow a developer to provide less than the minimum parking but they’ll not have any extra access to parking permits. Now, they have the choice to build a low-parking development, but they’re also indirectly ensuring that it is low-car development. If a resident in such a low-parking building wants to have a car, they have to find a space for it. If it’s on the street, it’d only be by way of getting a permit from a current holder.

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        • Chris I July 6, 2016 at 1:04 pm

          And thus is only truly fair if you set up some sort of lottery for the passes each year. If the plan is implemented as proposed, you will see existing residents hold on to passes, and ensure that they are under-priced (ie: not priced as high as they would be if all permits were available for auction each year). The existing residents that hold passes will always be the majority in any neighborhood voting, and they will never vote to increase available passes or raise rates. And why would they?

          New residents will not be able to buy permits, because there will be none available. We see the exact same thing with taxi permits all over the country. Supply is limited, and as demand increases, the value of existing permits increases greatly. The existing cab companies have all of the political influence, and work to restrict the availability of new permits.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty July 6, 2016 at 1:21 pm

            Wait, do you want an auction or a lottery? Only an auction would provide true market pricing. A lottery almost certainly guarantees a mismatch between price and demand. As each space has a different value, the only logical solution is an annual auction (open to all) for each parking space in the system.

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    • Chris Rall July 5, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      This assumes that there are enough parking spaces for the remaining residents. If the city has already sold more permits than there are spaces, the problem lies with the ‘license to hunt’ permit system. Price the permits so you sell fewer of them than there are spaces, and you go a long way toward solving the on-street parking problem. Applying an incredibly inflexible and arbitrary rule on new development leaves the current imbalance in place – happy hunting in NW.

      BTW, where the heck has this ‘great compromise solution’ been implemented?

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    • Cory P July 6, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      So your saying that people who have the kind of money to buy a house in NW Portland need free street parking in the public right of way while people who can only afford to live in a 300sq ft apartment should be barred from the use of the public right of way?
      What nonsense. I don’t want to see people bring their cars to Portland but any solution needs to be equatable.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty July 6, 2016 at 12:14 pm

        All of the proposals here are highly regressive. High fees for parking impact the poor far more than the rich. The only vaguely progressive proposal is for auto-ownership-restricted buildings, which could actually lower rents for residents.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. July 6, 2016 at 12:28 pm

          Red herring. Low income people drive far less than higher-income people. Additionally, the fees collected could be used to improve safety in the neighborhood, which helps everyone. It might even take cars off the road, making cheaper forms of transport (cycling, bus, and rail) work better.

          If we are really concerned with equity, we should increase fees for driving and use them to improve cycling and public transport infra.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty July 6, 2016 at 12:34 pm

            This has nothing to do with the cost of driving, but instead the cost of vehicle ownership. If a gas tax can be regressive, then this is too, only more so because you can’t reduce your exposure by driving less.

            The fees from any regressive tax could be used in the way you describe. It does not make them less regressive.

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        • Matt S. July 6, 2016 at 1:16 pm

          It’s becoming too expensive to rent in Portland, soon it’ll be too expensive to live in your car…

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  • Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 5, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Asher M

    Here’s a great compromise solution that’s been implemented elsewhere: Forbid tenants of the 30+ unit new apartments from obtaining street parking passes.

    That’s, like, the most NIMBY solution ever. “I was here first” / “I’m in a fancier apartment”.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm

      There we go with the dismissive insults again…

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  • Social Engineer July 5, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    This developer doesn’t have a clue about the state of transit in NW and yet he thinks everyone in this building “won’t own cars”. That is a fantasy.

    FYI: streetcar and bus aren’t only “a block” away from this building. The 77 is the equivalent of four “Portland” blocks away on 21st. The streetcar? Also four blocks away on Lovejoy if you happen to be going downtown.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 5, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      I definitely agree that Kehoe’s claim that residents of his building won’t own cars will almost certainly be false (most won’t, some will), but it’s an unverifiable prediction.

      His bus/streetcar claims, though, are basically true — his building is halfway between 19th and 20th and the bus runs on 21st; it faces Overton and the streetcar runs on Northrup. The actual stops are a little further, yes, but he’s making a fair point (and in any case, distance from the line is what matters to the city code).

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      • Social Engineer July 5, 2016 at 3:25 pm

        The blocks in NW are double-length west of 19th. Also, the 77 is hardly a workhorse “frequent service” line. It runs half hourly except during peak periods and stops running way too early at night.

        Moreover, the streetcar isn’t as frequent as one might think. Did you know that the portion of the NS line in Northwest does not qualify as Frequent Service (sub-15 minute headways) until past 10AM in the morning? During the AM commute, each streetcar line runs at approximately 19 minute headways. For a service that is admittedly slow, this is awful.

        The bottom line is that our transit is not good enough and the price we put on our residential permits is not high enough. To ignore these problems and claim that people won’t continue to bring their cars when moving into these types of developments is a mistake.

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  • Matt S. July 5, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Can these apartment buildings be constructed with auto parking, but the spaces be distributed to those that pay for them? Allowing individuals to live in the unit for a fixed price and then additionally purchasing a parking space. Any surplus spaces could then be sold to individuals living outside the units; similar to a monthly parking garage, but at a higher price. This allows for the housing to be built, individuals to live there that want cars, and reduce curb-side parking—all simultaneously.

    However, this does nothing to reduce the overall number of total cars in the city = bad for environment and bikes.

    I just think the city is delusional to think people are moving here without cars.

    I’ve lived with 11 different roommates in Portland, they’ve all owned cars.

    “In most of those buildings around Portland’s east side, half or more of households in the no-parking buildings owned at least one car. That meant parking spillover, which led to a backlash from some neighbors.”

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    • Matt S. July 5, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      Follow up emails.

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    • TonyJ July 5, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Matt, sure. If we required developers to sever the cost of parking from rent. Unfortunately, the per-month recovery cost of a single space can easily exceed $200, so usually a landlord can’t find someone to rent it at cost and must spread the extra out among everyone else.

      Nevertheless, it’s still better to charge more for on-street parking, let the developers figure out how much parking they need to rent their apartments and not have an arbitrary threshold.

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      • Buzz July 5, 2016 at 4:06 pm

        NYC property owners commonly sever rent from parking, and you can wait longer for a parking space to become available than for an apartment.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 5, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      Until recently, it would have been illegal to rent residential spaces to a resident of a different building. As I understand it, this recently became legal in NW, though I think you need a city permit to do it. As briandavispdx explains above, we haven’t yet had a chance to see whether this will have any effects.

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  • Chris I July 5, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Portland is at a critical moment for neighborhoods like NW. We have two options:

    1. Parking minimums. This will discourage new development, but development will still happen. The number of cars in the neighborhood will greatly increase, leading to gridlock on the main corridors, and cut-through traffic on our low-traffic bike routes.

    2. No parking minimums, and demand-based pricing for street parking. More housing will be added, but less of it will come with off-street parking. The number of cars in the area will increase more slowly, because street parking is nearly 100% full right now. It’s hard to move into an apartment with no parking space when the street spots are already full all day long.

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    • Chris I July 5, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      Because street parking is nearly full, we can only add large numbers of cars to the neighborhoods by building off-street parking. At some point you hit saturation, and no new cars can be added.

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      • David Hampsten July 5, 2016 at 3:07 pm

        Saturation only occurs if you have strict effective enforcement of parking regulations by the city (law) or by predatory towing companies (market). Otherwise you get the situation in much of Europe or any college town in the USA, of drivers parking (illegally) on sidewalks, other people’s driveways, non-resident or commercial parking lots, corners, or double-parking. With twice as many permits as parking spaces, everyone feels entitled to a space for their car – somewhere, anywhere, preferably within 50 feet of where they live or work. Welcome to parking hell, AKA Portland.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 3:08 pm

          To some people, what you describe is the desired outcome.

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        • Chris I July 5, 2016 at 3:22 pm

          The price would be managed to avoid those problems. You either control with managed meters (all hours, adjustable pricing) or district permits that change price each year based on demand. Meters would be priced to target 90% occupancy, for example. This greatly reduces spot hunting.

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  • JeffS July 5, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Is this the Rick Michaelson who owns about 10 properties in the area, most all without on-site parking?

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  • Sigma July 5, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Here’s the ordinance they are voting on tomorrow:


    Here’s what it’s called:

    “Amend Title 33, Planning and Zoning to allow limited commercial use of accessory parking within the Northwest Plan District (Ordinance; amend Title 33)”

    I read it, and there’s nothing in there about parking minimums. Did I miss something?

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    • Ted Buehler July 5, 2016 at 2:32 pm

      Sigma — from your link, bottom of the first page:

      is this it?

      “The proposal included two amendments to the Portland Zoning Code, specifically 1) changes to Chapter 33.562.280, Parking, to add limited minimum parking requirements for new multi-dwelling development over 30 units…”

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      • Sigma July 5, 2016 at 2:39 pm

        That’s describing an earlier draft that the planning commission rejected. It’s not in the ordinance council is voting on tomorrow. I guess it could be added back in, but this is an incredibly misleading article.

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    • maccoinnich July 5, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      The ordinance as introduced does not contain the parking minimums that were struck down by the PSC. However members of the NW Parking SAC are going to ask City Council to reintroduce the minimums. Any vote wont be until next week at the earliest, as it’s not an emergency ordinance, but I guarantee City Council will be discussing parking minimums tomorrow.

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      • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
        Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 5, 2016 at 4:25 pm

        I got differing predictions from the council folks I spoke to about whether a vote might happen Wednesday.

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        • maccoinnich July 5, 2016 at 4:40 pm

          I’m fairly confident that absent an emergency, they can’t vote on an ordinance at first reading. They can vote to discuss and add amendments to an ordinance already on the agenda, and but actual decisions have to wait until second reading.

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    • TonyJ July 5, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      So, Planning Commission REJECTED the minimums, but the NW Parking Stakeholder group is lobbying to add it back in and it looks like Novick or Hales will take them up on the offer.

      It’s confusing, I know. We thought we won this back in March, but well connected insiders have a lot of influence.

      The article is not misleading, these minimum parking requirements are very likely to be tacked on and have a good chance of passing.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. July 5, 2016 at 3:41 pm

        Why even have a Bureau of Planning and Sustainability if City Council can just override their recommendations with something that underwent zero planning and is completely unsustainable? Have some faith in your city staffers! They likely know better than a bunch of elected officials that only seem to respond to complaints from NIMBYs.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 3:45 pm

          You mean the NIMBYs who don’t want parking for vehicles brought by new residents?

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. July 5, 2016 at 3:48 pm

            Seems like they do want parking for those new residents as long as it’s not anywhere near their backyards. Hence why they’re demanding off-street parking.

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            • Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 5, 2016 at 3:49 pm

              anywhere near their backyards

              or in front of their house, on public land that is often confused with private ownership.

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              • Matt S. July 5, 2016 at 8:32 pm

                Be careful with that argument because it can very well be applied to bicycles.

                “Um, sir, I just wanted to notify you that you’r not allowed to store your private property (bicycle) along that lamp post while you patron the bar across the street. You’ll have to take it down to the designated chain up area where you’ll have to pay 1.50$ per hour.”

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              • Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 5, 2016 at 8:42 pm

                What? Nothing I said indicates a public resource can’t be used. Or that a private resource can’t be shared.

                Must everything immediately be a slippery slope?

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              • Matt S. July 5, 2016 at 8:48 pm

                The sentiment of your comment echos many posts on here of how car owners should not be allowed to store their private property along streets which are publicly owned.

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              • JeffS July 5, 2016 at 8:56 pm

                It is a similar thing, and it’s certainly valid to ask whether the city should be in the business of storing bicycles; not, however, when the curbs are lined with automobiles. Unless, of course, your’e one of those politicians that likes starting with the least impactful issues.

                How hypocritical would it be to have a stance, only if it didn’t affect you personally?

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              • Matt S. July 5, 2016 at 9:07 pm

                It is ridicules to conflate the two considering I don’t ever have to circle the block to find somewhere to park my bicycle. Parking is certainly an issue and the only real solution is to find ways for people to live extremely low car lifestyles or completely without cars. I once did it and I’m trying to get back there. It’s absolutely absurd that I drive to work when I live so close.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. July 6, 2016 at 9:05 am

                Sure, they can store their privately owned cars on the public street. They just have to pay up.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 3:54 pm

              Sorry, you’re right. It’s the opponents that are the NIMBYs.

              In fact, the policy you support would simply externalize the costs of car ownership.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. July 5, 2016 at 4:04 pm

                What policy is that? No off-street parking and charging everyone with a car to pay for a permit to park on the street?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 4:08 pm

                If those policies were being proposed as a bundle you might have a point. In this case, we’re only discussing half the equation. The result of that will be externalized costs, as well as a more dangerous cycling environment as more people circle more blocks distracted and frustrated.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. July 5, 2016 at 4:59 pm

                Adding more parking will inevitably add more cars, which will also create a dangerous cycling environment. At the very least, the frustration of looking for parking will encourage some to get rid of their cars or drive them much less. The parking permit program is coming soon, so why increase parking minimums now only to decrease them later? Instead of being shortsighted, why not stay prepared for the future?

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      • q July 5, 2016 at 3:58 pm

        And then imagine being an architect or developer. You spend several months designing to code requirements that have just recently been reviewed and updated. But before you apply for permits, the code abruptly changes and voids months of work.

        Portland constantly changes the rules, and it often involves major swings one way, then the other. It’s like nutrition advice–eggs are good, eggs are bad, carbs are good, carbs are bad–but mandated into law.

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  • Ted Buehler July 5, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Folks, if you oppose minimum parking requirements (and are in favor of zero minimum parking requirements), be sure to let city council know.

    Their contact info is here:

    Tell them “I oppose Resolution 810”
    That’s all you really need. But you can also share other thoughts, like if you support higher minimum *bicycle* parking requirements…

    Email ASAP so your email gets tallied before tomorrow’s meeting.

    (Or, if you support requiring parking, tell them that instead)

    Ted Buehler

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    • Ted Buehler July 5, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      & anyone following this issue — look at my summary and let me know if I got anything mixed up.

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      • buildwithjoe July 5, 2016 at 3:52 pm

        Ted, you asked about feedback. Sending comments directly to Commissioners (Novick) is your suggestion. That’s ok, to each his own. But Ted’s idea runs the risk of the public not being able to work together. Novick is not mandated to forward comments into the public record.

        Prior to your post I had suggested people take more direct work:

        a) Post their feedback to the city here so we can all see each other’s crafty ideas

        b) Send the feedback so it lands on public record, not in a dead end inbox.

        My tips are a bit more direct action… and you can find them here:

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    • TonyJ July 5, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      Just to clarify, Resolution 811 is what we are talking about and currently it is clean doesn’t contain minimum parking requirements. Charlie or Steve are likely to introduce an amendment to 811 which adds the minimums back in. That is what we want to oppose. The stuff currently in 811 is, in my opinion, good.

      “I oppose minimum parking requirements for multi-family housing in NW Portland.”

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    • Ted Buehler July 6, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      Thanks for the clarifications, Joe and Tony.

      Ted Buehler

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  • Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 5, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Oh also, my home office looks out on NW 23rd. It’s gotten a lot busier. People who drive probably complain about it. How does more car storage help?

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  • q July 5, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Developers who want to build housing in NW Portland without off-street parking should be allowed to do so, but only if they build in close-in neighborhoods where people can manage without owning a car.

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    • maccoinnich July 5, 2016 at 2:56 pm

      “close-in neighborhoods where people can manage without owning a car”… like NW Portland?

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      • q July 5, 2016 at 4:01 pm


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      • Buzz July 5, 2016 at 4:10 pm

        Yeah, but you currently can’t force people not to own cars, or are you proposing to add motor vehicle ownership to children, pets and race as a reason to discriminate against renters?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 4:12 pm

          I want policies that make it easier for people who do not own a car to find housing, or to find cheaper housing.

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          • Chris I July 6, 2016 at 7:40 am

            Two things that do that:

            1. No parking minimums
            2. Properly priced street parking

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        • q July 5, 2016 at 4:55 pm

          I’m not sure who you’re directing this at–I don’t see that anyone has proposed forcing people to not own cars.

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  • bikeninja July 5, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    This is a complex problem that has a simple solution. Combine the drivers license and car registration information at the DMV and issue all those who want it a certified ” non car owner” card that can be swiped and verified at any time. Then make it the law that you can only lease apartments without parking to those holding the “non car owner” card. This would have many benefits to society including making a car free life more attractive and possibly lowering rents for all the new ” Car Free” units. Developers could build as many no parking apartments as they want without effecting traffic or street parking congestion because they would not be shoving off an externality on the public. It’s not the 1960’s anymore. We have climate change,we have congestion , we have computers and we have the internet. We can certainly use the later to solve the former.

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    • axoplasm July 5, 2016 at 3:13 pm

      Even simpler would be charging something like the market rate for on-street parking.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 3:24 pm

        Yes! Like an annual auction for individual spots. Let the market set the price!

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    • Chris I July 5, 2016 at 3:24 pm

      Properly pricing street spaces based on market demand would solve the problem without involving the DMV or creating multiple classes of citizen drivers.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 3:30 pm

        Not multiple classes of citizen drivers, rather different types of housing, some of which may be more suited to one person than another… just like housing today. You’d be free to rent the type of housing that best served your needs.

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        • JeffS July 5, 2016 at 5:44 pm

          My only concern is that this fees the nimby mentality that existing spaces belong to them.

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          • JeffS July 5, 2016 at 5:45 pm


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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 5:53 pm

            I don’t think it would. bikeninja’s proposal would not change where any existing residents parked.

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            • JeffS July 5, 2016 at 8:42 pm

              No. It could likely reinforce the idea that the spaces were theirs to start with, making any future parking policy changes more difficult to navigate. Say, you wanted to widen a street, greenspace a row of parking spaces, or anything else. Have you potentially declared these spaces to belong to certain properties?

              To state the obvious… the spaces are public property, subject to being repurposed at any time. You have to admit there’s a certain irony in only allowing people with onsite parking to park on the street.

              Left up to me, there would be no on-street parking, so I’m not getting elected to any office in the foreseeable future.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 5, 2016 at 10:09 pm

                Sorry to seem so dense… if a new apartment gets built near a house I am living in and residents there are not permitted to have cars, how does this strengthen my sense of entitlement to the place I park my car vs. the scenario where the apartment doesn’t get built, or has parking on-site, or whatever. I would expect no change to any sense of entitlement.

                Would you rather have wide open streets with no buffer between pedestrians and motor vehicles than have on-street parking?

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              • JeffS July 6, 2016 at 10:26 am

                Think of the NW scenario. The entire reason some are wanting to require parking is because the existing supply has been exhausted. It “belongs” to the people who are already there. New people need to come up with their own supply. They already believed this. Someone pulled some strings with the mayor, and we have confirmed it by requiring parking. Seems pretty obvious that you have confirmed their entitlement,

                The longer you concede to the protectionist crowd, the harder it becomes to ever go against them. If a person can’t imagine a road not lined with parked cars, they can’t imagine the change I’m discussing anyway so it’s a moot point.


                “Would you rather have wide open streets with no buffer between pedestrians and motor vehicles than have on-street parking?”

                Absolutely, and with no hesitation whatsoever.

                Do I want to be able to actually see oncoming traffic when I go to cross the street? Without a doubt, just as I would like motorists to see me before I step eight feet into the street to look around a car.

                I find that most people who use the parking as traffic calming argument are really just pro-parking advocates. If I wanted to address their concerns though, I could just move the curb out eight feet. Now the lanes are still narrow for calming, and there’s eight feet more buffer for pedestrians, and eight feet of public space for plants, benches, etc.

                I know we’re typically against building parking around these parts, but I have no problem with parking decks. I fully support centralizing cars on arterials and greatly limiting them everywhere else. I am not anti-car. I’m simply against the idea that a car has to be a door to door transportation method.

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              • Matt S. July 6, 2016 at 11:00 am

                I agree with Jeff on centralized parking and have people walk to their destinations. It seems to be the most logical. Albeit, parking structures are somewhat gross, but the one in the Pearl to the right of the Broadway bridge isn’t too ugly.

                It’s not realistic to think people are going to get rid of their cars anytime soon and I strongly believe a very small fraction of people are actually move here without cars and if they do move here without a car, as soon as they get their income up, they purchase a vehicle.

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              • q July 5, 2016 at 10:50 pm

                Jeff–“a certain irony in only allowing people with onsite parking to park on the street”? Lots of existing residents don’t have onsite parking.

                But the important thing to me is that the idea of building housing with no parking to be occupied by people agreeing not to have cars is that it removes one of the main objections to increased density. It’s an interesting concept that could make sense in some situations–especially, for instance, in areas where increased density is being proposed. If it works because it caters to people’s selfishness (about reducing competition for the on-street parking they currently have) so what, if it works?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 6, 2016 at 12:16 am

                I like this idea because it is one way to guarantee lower rents; parking restrictions will certainly lower the market value for such units, to the benefit of those “doing the right thing”, without being punitive to those who can’t.

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              • Chris I July 6, 2016 at 7:01 am

                Any policy that creates multiple classes of citizens based on the age of the housing they are renting creates entitlement for one group over the other. By definition, the group that was already in place now is specially entitled to something that is and always should be a public resource.

                I think I’m done with this thread, because it is apparent that huge numbers of Portlanders are impervious to logic when it comes to housing policy. I suggest you all do some research on zoning and parking policy. Start with Shoup’s book. Portland is changing. If we enact policies that discourage development and enshrine special privileges for existing residents, we are going to end up like San Francisco.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 6, 2016 at 9:23 am

                Except that people can freely move between “classes” based on their needs at the moment. People living in older housing may be newer residents than those living in newer housing.

                I am convinced that housing in Portland will continue to increase in cost no matter what we do due to the induced demand of having the cheapest housing on the west coast, and trying to outbuild that will do great damage to the aspects of the city I value most (and will ultimately be futile). I also believe that robot cars will dramatically change the landscape in the medium term, and the worst thing we can do is to turn residents against sensible density in the meantime. Buildings for car-free residents may be the best way to move forward in the short term. The only problem (from some people’s point of view) is they don’t sufficiently punish those who own cars.

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              • q July 6, 2016 at 9:42 am

                Chris==Here’s how I see it. If there are off-street parking minimums–perhaps it would be great if none existed anywhere here, but that’s not realistically going to be true for some time other than in some areas–then people who have no intention of owning a car don’t get a choice of moving into a new building that doesn’t include parking, even though they’ll never use it.

                Since the idea of parking minimums is to ensure that new buildings don’t add unduly to the competition for street spaces, it seems like a developer who agrees voluntarily to rent to people who voluntarily agree to not own cars is meeting that purpose. This idea gives the developer that voluntary option.

                Without this new voluntary option, tenants without cars have to live in buildings that provide parking whether they need it or not, and developers have to provide it even if their tenants don’t want it. You might say that tenants without cars don’t have to pay for that parking, since the developer can be sure to rent to a certain percentage of tenants that WILL pay for a space, but in effect you’d be saying that every developer must set aside a certain number of units for people who drive and want off-street parking, which is a crazy set-aside.

                Giving developers and tenants this option doesn’t preclude raising on-street parking prices. It also doesn’t create “entitlements” more than other things people voluntarily do that allow or disallow them from using other public resources.

                This idea also doesn’t preclude zoning that eliminates parking minimums, and of course it wouldn’t be relevant in those areas. But unless or until parking minimums are eliminated city-wide, why would you want to continue forcing developers to provide parking for tenants who don’t want or need it, and denying tenants who don’t want off-street parking the option of living in a new building that doesn’t provide it?

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      • Oliver July 6, 2016 at 9:57 am

        It could be argued that the arrival of wealthy newcomers has already created several classes of drivers. Removing free parking spaces from public use and putting them up for bid at auction guarantees that 6 (7?) figure singles and Dinks are going to get those parking spaces ahead of established working class or retired residents of neighborhoods. I can see people buying those spaces simply for guest parking.

        The rich people are coming (have arrived) and they’re bringing their cars with them because dropping 3, 5, $700 a year on a parking spot for their Westie Syncro or Defender doesn’t mean the difference between paying for their prescriptions or pet food.

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  • Asher July 5, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    So you’d rather fight with NIMBYs to extend the dubious privilege of street parking to MORE people, than make a minor concession that yields more economical housing? The article mentions, at least at one building, only 30% of residents brought a car anyway – who would simply have to resort to living in older buildings.

    Also, with this compromise in place, it meqns the people who do come will be a natural strong constituency for alternatives to car ownership.

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  • Tom July 6, 2016 at 12:27 am

    Missing from this is a proper induced demand analysis. More car parking induces more car mode share through the induced demand phenomena. This has been studied and can be modeled for a given project if you also take into account availability of nearby parking options.

    The city should start with goals, such as a mode share goal, then use induced demand analysis to determine the space per tenant parking budget for each project needed to meet the goal. This may result in local opposition carrying less weight since the mode share goal would be pre-approved by the city as whole.


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  • Terry D-M July 6, 2016 at 8:07 am

    As a BikeWalkVote board member , we endorsed Novick over Emmons because of his understanding of induced demand with regards to parking. That was enough to kill Emmons chances at coming in second. Now is the time where he needs to act like he talks.

    Adding parking minimums in NE is a terrible idea, no matter what “future reforms” may bring. Novick must vote no or he either just said what we wanted to hear, or cares more about getting re-elected than good policy.

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    • Terry D-M July 6, 2016 at 8:08 am

      Should have been NW, but you get the idea.

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    • Dawn July 6, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Thanks for saying this Terry. I voted for Novick based on (my presumptions of) his understanding of parking policy and support for pedestrian and bike friendly policies in the city. I am now considering changing my vote to Eudaly.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty July 6, 2016 at 3:50 pm

        My rule is never vote for the incumbent during the primary. A runoff is almost always in our best interest. You learn a lot more about the candidates, even if one of them is a chimp.

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  • Craig July 14, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Build a district parking garage that pencils out with construction and maintenance.

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