We’ve been on the car-housing beat for many years now, so when housing expert and Sightline reporter Michael Andersen says he’s never seen a more clear-cut example of how Portland can choose housing for people or housing for cars, I think it’s worth your attention.
Andersen just published a story about a policy in front of Portland City Council today that would reform “mid-density zones”. Among the details of the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability’s Better Homes By Design proposal is one that Andersen finds “almost shocking its clarity.”
I’ll let Andersen explain (emphasis mine):
“It turns out that there is one simple factor that determines whether these lots are likely to eventually redevelop as: high-cost townhomes, or as mixed-income condo buildings for the middle and working class.
The difference between these options is whether they need to provide storage for cars — i.e. parking.
According to calculations (PDF) from the city’s own contracted analysts, if off-street parking spaces are required in the city’s new “RM2” zone, then the most profitable thing for a landowner to build on one of these properties in inner Portland is 10 townhomes, each valued at $733,000, with an on-site garage.
But if off-street parking isn’t required, then the most profitable thing to build is a 32-unit mixed-income building, including 28 market-rate condos selling for an average of $280,000 and four below-market condos—potentially created in partnership with a community land trust like Portland’s Proud Ground—sold to households making no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income.
This is worth repeating: As long as parking isn’t necessary, the most profitable homes a developer can build on a lot like this in inner Portland would already be within the reach of most Portland households on day one.”
Get the full lowdown at Sightline.org.
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