Developers say bike parking rules are biggest reason for housing delays

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)
From the survey.

City leaders are turning over every possible rock to find policies that will help them build more housing more quickly. Last month, Portland City Commissioner Carmen Rubio and the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) sent out a survey asking which building requirements the City of Portland should consider suspending or modifying to help them reach that goal.

The results of that survey came out Wednesday and the thing at the top of developers’ list of peeves — rules about the type and quantity of bicycle parking required in new building projects — raised a lot of eyebrows in transportation circles.

The survey was emailed to 3,100 people involved in the building permit process: those who had applied for construction permits in the past four years; non-profit organizations developing new housing; businesses and professionals involved in housing development; and city employees from the seven bureaus who review permits.

Asked to rank the top five most burdensome regulations out of a list of 22, over a third of the the 600 respondents chose bike parking requirements as a top-five priority standing in the way of more quickly producing housing. It got more top-five votes than any other requirement, although System Development Charges beat bike parking as the absolute number one requirement needing attention. (A formatted presentation of survey results and next steps is available here.)

Portland passed a major update to its bike parking code in 2019, the first overhaul of requirements since 1996. The code upped the minimum quantity required, added theft prevention rules, addressed accessibility concerns, ended a loophole that allowed developers to put a hook inside a unit to fulfill the long-term parking requirement, and more.

Rubio is commissioner-in-charge of BDS and the Portland Housing Bureau, and she also heads Prosper Portland, the city’s economic development agency. With that portfolio, she sits at the crux of the housing affordability and supply crises that Portland and the state face.

And there is pressure coming from the state to do something. One of Governor Tina Kotek’s first actions in office was to declare a state of emergency because of homelessness and to sign an executive order creating the Governor’s Housing Production Advisory Council with the goal of building 36,000 homes per year.

Commissioner Rubio is well-placed to help meet those goals. Today’s survey is a first step in streamlining Portland’s processes and policies with an eye toward building more housing.

The slowness and complexity of Portland’s permitting system has been the subject of many reports and audits over the past several years. The 2021 report from the City Auditor, in particular, reads like a supporting document for replacing the commission form of government with a city manager:

The commission form of government and fragmented permitting authority across seven bureaus has resulted in no one entity empowered to resolve these long-standing Citywide problems. This is exacerbated by leadership turnover – both with bureau directors and Commissioner assignments – that results in changed priorities, focus areas, and funding decisions. As a result, each bureau director and their Commissioner-in-charge remains focused on their own bureau and not on the City permitting process as a whole.

“The next step is to do further research to see if any changes related to a specific process or policy would help to increase housing production.”

– Jillian Schoene, chief of staff for Commissioner Rubio

Given the governance inefficiencies pointed out by the audit, and the effect they have had on the permitting process, I reached out to Commissioner Rubio’s office to see if they had a sense of whether it was the actual regulations themselves that were slowing down housing production, or if the culprit might be the confusion caused by having permitting authority spread across seven different independent bureaus. Rubio’s Chief of staff Jillian Schoene responded. “Now that we have the initial feedback [from the survey], the next step is to do further research to see if any changes related to a specific process or policy would help to increase housing production,” she said.

Another source of confusion the 2021 audit details has been conflicts between new and existing regulations. The City Council stopped funding annual regulatory improvement reviews in 2017, and no reconciliation process has been in effect since.

Commissioner Rubio, says Schoene, in partnership with BDS and the Permit Task Force, has set up a Regulatory Workgroup tasked with “designing a new process for the city to follow for code development,” with the goal that for any new regulation “there is front-end vetting to learn early where conflicts may arise.”

The survey had a box for additional comments, and those make for bracing reading (even rivaling BikePortland comments). Several of them jumped out for different reasons, including number 26, in all caps:

PLEASE KEEP THE PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE REQUIREMENTS! THESE INVESTMENTS ARE IMPORTANT TO THE FUTURE OF OUR CITY AND PLANET BY MAKING MORE WALKABLE NEIGHBORHOODS.

Or this one:

You don’t need suspending or modifying [of requirements] to support increased housing production, you need to have staff return phone calls and email and speed up the processing part of the permit. I just had a townhouse project that took over a month just to intake. Pre-Covid this would have been completed in one day. And permits in pre-issuance for weeks is not acceptable. I typically have no problems with the regulations or fees. It’s the weeks of no response from staff.

This survey is a first step in the significant overhaul of the building permitting process which the city is undertaking. Other recent efforts have included the work of commissioners Dan Ryan and Mingus Mapps on the Permit Metric Dashboard, and also with the Permitting Improvement Task Force.

Much of Portland’s built environment relies on improvements to the public space made by, and required of, new development — things like new bike racks. BikePortland will be following this process as it unfolds.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero is on the board of SWTrails PDX, and was the chair of her neighborhood association's transportation committee. A proud graduate of the PBOT/PSU transportation class, she got interested in local transportation issues because of service cuts to her bus, the 51. Lisa has lived in Portland for 23 years and can be reached at lisacaballero853@gmail.com.

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EP
EP
1 year ago

Let’s be honest, it should just be: “Developers say basic health and safety codes are biggest reason for housing delays”

They say bike parking is a pain, likely because it’s a new requirement and one they don’t want to prioritize. Developers will gladly figure out how to cram that extra paid parking spot onto a site plan, but using the same space to park bikes…for free?! I’ve seen many bike racks crammed into new developments as such an afterthought, clearly they’re not exerting a lot of time and effort on this.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  EP

It’s not a new requirement, it’s been around for decades now.

EP
EP
1 year ago
Reply to  FDUP

“Newer” than most. They haven’t been taking it seriously for decades but now that they have to they’re complaining.

Todd/Boulanger
1 year ago

As someone who did operations and consultant work on developer + public bike parking facilities (range: 20 to 350 stalls) in cities coast to coast [for Bikestation]…plus volunteered for the PBoT bike parking code process [BTA/ ST]…I am not surprised that there were “complaints”:
part of this is lack of deep knowledge about what makes great urban bike parking in the development field (code enforcement too), this is also a topic that can be very difficult to discuss when only ‘zooming’ for meetings vs field visits by staff…hands on really helps those that do not ‘bike park’; anything bike related (parking and bikesharing stations, too) seems to always be the ‘last item’ to be installed for the occupancy process, so any conflict with HVAC, plumbing, fire suppression etc cascades onto the outfitting of the bike rooms and thus pressure to cut corners…especially the two tier racks, this is a self imposed hardship by the development team; andSupply chain / costs for the most specialized racks may be another issue.
The digging deeper into these survey responses may highlight future action steps:
More education of the development community for the “new” bike parking code, perhaps it was cut short due to COVID? [only a uneducated guess on my part]

blumdrew
1 year ago

I imagine a lot of bigger developers have their hands in many different cities – having bike parking be “Portland only” likely means that they can’t just copy-paste designs between different areas. Which is more expensive/annoying for them I imagine, but fine with me. I want to have the places built now be livable, and bike parking is part of that. I had a secure bike parking facility at my last apartment, but not my current one (which is much older). It was nice, and I wish I still had it.

Developers have big economic incentives to make things as cheaply and un-livable as possible. Housing regulations are good, and bike parking requirements make Portland a better city to live in. I’d prefer to see a relaxing of FAR and height limits far more than a relaxing of bike parking. Reducing bike parking will allow for developers to make more money without making our city any better. Relaxing FAR and height limits would (in my opinion) make Portland a better place to live. 4 or 5 story buildings are nice, and density is something our city is sorely lacking outside a few pockets (South Waterfront and Downtown). Not to say we need big glass towers in every neighborhood, but 4 story apartment buildings should be allowed on every street in the city within a few miles from the river.

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I shudder to think what would happen without housing regulations. Developers would probably make a lot of buildings with one shared bathroom per floor if they could.

blumdrew
1 year ago
Reply to  Serenity

It’s pretty easy to see what would happen, just take a look at pictures and accounts of the old tenement slums in New York.

Michael Andersen
Michael Andersen
1 year ago
Reply to  Serenity

If I were to walk up the street to the people living outside along NE 33rd, I’m not sure I could explain to them why it should be illegal for them to live in a building where they’d have towalk down a hall to go to the bathroom.

soren
soren
1 year ago

When is your new Sightline piece on relegalizing SROs with tiny windowless rooms, 1 bathroom per 30 rooms, and one narrow staircase coming out?

Will
Will
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

Except for the lack of windows that sounds just like a college dorm.

Will
Will
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve C

Oh I know about Mungerville, my friend lived in one in Michigan.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 year ago
Reply to  Will

As a former student at UCSB, I had to laugh at the whole Munger architecture debacle. I lived in a dorm in Goleta for two years, and I could count on two hands the number of times I actually looked out the window. I mean, either I was in class, in the dorm cafeteria, or studying…OK, or partying…windows in dorms are a fake issue…one that has contributed to the housing shortage in one of the most expensive housing environments in the country…Santa Barbara County.

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  Will

Except for the involuntary commitment the SROs YIMBYs are advocating for resemble prisons.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Serenity

I lived in a building with one shared bathroom per floor for several years in college. I also shared my room with a complete stranger.

It wasn’t ideal, but we don’t need ideal.

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Yeah, I hear a lot of people live in those during college… but college dorms are not *exactly* what most people mean by affordable housing.

was carless
was carless
1 year ago
Reply to  Serenity

I used to pay $500 a month for a dorm, which included 3 meals a day and all utilities paid. This was in the 21st century.

If you could get that for sub $1k/month that would solve a ton of homelessness.

was carless
was carless
1 year ago
Reply to  Serenity

We used to call those SROs and that’s how we used to be able to rent a 1 bed apartment downtown for $300/month 20 years ago. Also called roach hotels. They have essentially been zoned out of existence which is why there are so many car campers today.

Daniel Reimer
1 year ago

What is the current bike parking requirements and why are so many developers unhappy with them? What did Rubio think about bike parking being a barrier? This seems like important information to include in this article.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

yes thanks. Added a graf to the story with link to our coverage of the bike parking code update in 2019. Below is the PBOT summary of what the code did:

➢ Reduce the in-unit allowance for required long-term bicycle parking. The proposed code amendments represent a compromise position to limit the amount of required bicycle parking in a residential unit, and add some additional standards on how the in-unit racks can be placed to maximize accessibility and usability.

➢ Increase options for space saving racks. Current code only addresses standards for horizontal (floor-mounted) rack placement and spacing. However, there are many rack designs that allow better use of space. Narrower spacing allows for greater flexibility in accommodating more bicycle parking in a smaller area.

➢ Usability for a variety of types of bicycles and people of all abilities. The Code’s requirements have not kept up with the types of bicycles people are riding today. Portland is seeing an increase in the use of electric bicycles and non-traditional sized bikes, including cargo bikes and recumbent tricycles. The proposed code amendments require bicycle parking that accommodates these bicycles and considers users of various abilities.

➢ Update the minimum required amounts of short– and long-term bicycle parking. The majority of the minimum required bicycle parking amounts have not been updated since 1996. Staff used a data driven formula based on data points, like average square footage per employee (long-term rates); visitation rates (short-term rates); and target bicycle mode split rates.

➢ Expand the use of geographic tiers to all Use Categories. While Portland has a citywide goal of 25% bicycle mode split for all trips, staff acknowledge that bicycle use rates will be different in various parts of the city, and that meeting the citywide goal will mean higher and lower rates depending on geography.

➢ Enhance security standards to help prevent bike theft. During early public outreach, staff heard that bike theft and security are of great concern to Portlanders. Tightening the security requirements and removing some of the standalone options that are available in current code are intended to help ensure higher security in long-term bicycle parking.

Ryan
Ryan
1 year ago

The city’s bike parking development regulations are online at https://www.portland.gov/sites/default/files/code/266-parking_1.pdf, starting page 25.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago

This is complete BS, developers in Portland have been whinging about having to provide bike parking for the last three decades, with the support of the Portland Business Alliance.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  FDUP

Ah yes, the BPA… the dark force behind the evil in Portland.

Romy G
Romy G
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

I’ myself would vote for “taxpayers funded nonprofits” as the dark force behind the evil in Portland. Before I moved to Portland I thought nonprofits were a force for good. Now I realize that is often NOT the case.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  Romy G

I don’t imagine that either of you (Watts, Romy) have ever engaged with the PBA on issues like this; I have, as a member of the BAC, and it wasn’t pretty.

maccoinnich
1 year ago

As someone who’s worked with a lot of developers, I think this might be a case where it’s not so much that developers think bike parking is the largest impediment to housing production as it is that it’s the regulation they’re most united in disliking. Developers will build non-required vehicular parking at far far greater expense than the required bike parking; but they think of the former as being as essential part of the program and the latter as being a ridiculous government imposed mandate.

Michael
Michael
1 year ago
Reply to  maccoinnich

It probably increase their A&E costs, too. They can’t just copy and paste their template 5-over-1s from Dubuque and Tampa to Portland, because they won’t meet significant parts of code. So they have to hire a consultant to reconfigure everything to meet Portland’s “weird” requirement to plan for biking. It’s certainly not a bad thing, in my mind, but I can definitely see how it slows down the overall process.

lvc
lvc
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael

They wouldn’t be able to just “cut and paste” designs for a large number of reasons. Different lot sizes, grades, street layouts and differences in code minimum loading will all be much greater impediments than bike parking requirements to copying one design to another job on the other side of the country.

In my limited corner of the construction industry, I’d say trying to get permits in Portland is a total slog and has been for years now. The Bureau of Devlopment Services (again in my own little corner at least) was perfectly reasonable to work with during the Randy Leonard years, got a little harder each year after that, and finally went totally bonkers when Eudaly started running BDS.

When I look at that list of top 5 requirements to suspend, I see a lot of stuff that increases costs for the building that they can’t recoup in increased rents. I kind of want someone to explain with a straight face how eliminating the requirement for bird safe glazing will lead to an increase in housing construction. I suppose that one could make an argument that improving the profit on building housing would make developers more enthusiastic about building more housing, but I’m not sure how seriously people who aren’t developers need to be taking it.

was carless
was carless
1 year ago
Reply to  lvc

My favorite part of BDS is when they let half their staff go at the beginning of the pandemic. I had multiple projects under review at the time and had to wait 6+ months before they assigned new staff to them. One of these projects took another year to be approved.

maccoinnich
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael

That’s not really how it works. Buildings don’t get copied from site-to-site for a whole number of reasons (including, but not limited to zoning). And most buildings that get built here are designed by local architects for local developers, or at least the local office of a regional or national developer.

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  maccoinnich

Don’t a little lot of them feel the same way about the ADA? Or, at least they used to. That’s not a new requirement either

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
1 year ago

I’m curious how many places I have experienced that meet the 2019 requirements.
Personally, I have been frustrated by the challenges of accessible bike storage. As noted in Jon’s reply to pigs, in unit is not something that can always accommodate a bike, let a lone a cargo bike. However I also cannot trust that my bike will be where I lock it in the provided space, be it a badge to enter locked room at ground level or a staple rack on the edge of a sidewalk, neither are as secure as keeping the bikes in unit. Perhaps because it is a greater social taboo to break and enter a living space than it is to do the same to a storage space? Perhaps this has been addressed appropriately in 2019 and I have not seen it. Security is a tricky thing to balance.

surly ogre
surly ogre
1 year ago

it costs a lot more money to build a car parking spaces than bike parking spaces.. A 100 space garage costs at least $4,000,000 or $40,000 per space so developers should be demanding zero car parking too. The comments in the survey indicate an issue with senior housing requiring bike parking and the suggestion/direction that bike parking should be in an alcove. Developers who don’t support bicycling in Portland can go build their garbage in some other city that wants garbage. Welcome to Portland, now get on your bike.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  surly ogre

Seniors not riding bikes is news to me. It’s a very affordable and healthy transportation choice for able bodied seniors.

was carless
was carless
1 year ago
Reply to  surly ogre

By comparison, a 100 space bike parking room should theoretically cost roughly $250,000. The problem is that so few portlanders are biking today that this isn’t seen as a desirable amenity to provide, is my guess.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 year ago

I just can’t even anymore. Thanks developers for the good chuckle today, I’m sure you really cleared up the housing shortage issue for the city, just get rid of bike parking requirements.

Dwk
Dwk
1 year ago

There is another thread here with over 100 comments from a lot people explaining why they don’t ride bicycles anymore in Portland….
Why does anyone care what the bike requirements are since cycling is not really much of a factor in transportation here anymore anyway?
In fact any push here for new cycling infrastructure should keep in mind it is only for 2% of the public.
We have more important problems,,, a lot of them.

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
1 year ago
Reply to  Dwk

Accessibility and equity of infrastructure allow people to feel more confident and safe using cycling as a tool to commute or recreate. I would say that your 2% have had their needs met, albeit at a minimum I’m sure, maintaining and improving upon these infrastructure requirements is for the other 98% that cannot or refuse to ride, per your list of 100 commented reasons. Infrastructure will address the needs of these people, and it can be a force to address the cultural challenges that are faced when cycling currently, again covered in your 100 comments. We do have a lot of very important problems that vary in complexity and importance, and we are lucky to live in society that can focus on multiple problems with synchronized effort. Focusing on one does not devalue another. Bicycle storage and its accessibility should be a priority for housing that is targeted to fulfill the needs of people that cannot afford the luxury of a vehicle, and last I heard we were not experiencing a shortage of luxury housing.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago

You did not read the comments apparently, as “infrastructure ” as defined by building things that bicycles can use is NOT at all the main reason given by most people as to why they don’t ride bicycles….
Personal safety due to the fear of crime and the appalling conditions of the infrastructure we have is the biggest reason..
It’s far past time for the city to clean up and take care of what we have and STOP worrying about building NEW crap that will be not be used.. For instance all the bike racks in town that are not used now…..

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

As I understand an affordable place where those on our MUP’s and sidewalks can live and securely store their things, bicycles included, is also infrastructure.

was carless
was carless
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

4 years ago, those racks were in fact being used to such a degree that they were often totally full.

SD
SD
1 year ago

Bike parking will be increasingly more important as people shift to e-bikes which are typically heavier, may take up more space and may be more attractive to thieves. Many people in the past have just kept their bikes in their apartments. This is harder to do with a lot of e-bikes. Housing/ population density requires transportation options that use space efficiently, like bikes.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago

It’s a valuable survey in a limited sense. The survey focuses on opinions of people involved in projects that have already made it into permitting. Two of the groups surveyed are City reviewers of projects and people who have submitted construction permits–in other words, people involved in projects that are already proceeding.

The projects and people that are underrepresented are those that don’t make it to the construction permit phase. They don’t make it to the point that things like bicycle parking rules are relevant, because they can’t get past bigger, more immediate issues, like financing, zoning that doesn’t allow their project at all, or seismic upgrade rules that make conversions to residential unfeasible.

So while this list of barriers is valuable, it shouldn’t be viewed at all as an accurate list of what is preventing housing from being built. Requirements such as those for bicycle parking may be inconveniences (and sometimes major ones) but I doubt they have killed off many projects completely, whereas bigger obstacles definitely have.

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
1 year ago
Reply to  qqq

I was glad to see, though, that the issue of FAR limitations and other zoning limitations were indeed mentioned. IMHO the major thing holding back housing development in Portland is amazingly archaic zoning. Really, there is “single-family zoning” (albeit now allowing 4-plexes) as close in as SE 12th! 6-story buildings with no front or side setbacks should be allowed everywhere west of SE/NE 50th, so we have allowance for more housing, without relying on ONLY the 100′ on each side of an arterial to increase our housing supply.

Ryan
Ryan
1 year ago

Developers say bike parking rules are biggest reason for housing delays

This headline is misleading.

For-profit developers are only 15% of survey respondents, and 6% were non-profit developers. See page 17 of the survey PDF linked in the story.

Over 37% were CITY OF PORTLAND STAFF, and over 28% were ‘Architect, attorney, design professional, engineer, planning consultants’. The responses are not just an anti-regulatory stance from developers seeking to maximize profit. I’m speculating here, but I suspect that the problems with bike parking are not opposition to the overall policy. It’s more likely that staff and project designers are experiencing problems that with regulations that are overly prescriptive and/or not appropriate for the proposed development. It’ll be interesting to learn about this in more detail as the regulatory improvement process goes forward.

Ryan
Ryan
1 year ago

It isn’t just that city staff “also agreed”. They were the plurality of the respondents! Group that with the ‘design professionals’ category and you have a survey where the majority of respondents aren’t developers. The narrative for coverage of this survey (BP, comments on this story, and other local media) is that developers think bike parking regulations are too burdensome. The reality is worse. Developers AND the folks trying to design for and implement regulations are flagging Portland’s bike parking as problematic (JR has some insights about the particulars…). The fact that residential land use regulations have to be clear and objective likely just encourages the city to implement as stringent of a one-size-fits-all approach as possible.

The commission form of government doesn’t help things (remember permit antagonist Randy Leonard being in charge of BDS?), and it is great to see collaboration amongst commissioners. It’s worth noting though that getting input from multiple departments/agencies and having to reconcile/negotiate/appease them in the development review process is not unique to a commission form of government. Those inefficiencies are endemic to planning and building development review regardless of the jurisdiction.

More broadly, I appreciate your reporting on the mundane but important details of the land use review process! This topic and the Gibbs development have been great reporting and would make for really interesting discussions at a BP ‘policy wonk’ night (looking at cct, qqq, Todd/B, David H (though he’s out of the area), Keith, and Atreus as commenters that have perhaps inadvertently identified themselves as topic experts!).

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  Ryan

I have to laugh at all these responses b/c in the big picture the reality is that the Bureau of Development Services doesn’t really care at all whether or not developers comply with the bike parking requirements. I have never seen a single project where an occupancy permit was withheld b/c the bike parking provided was not up to code, and it’s not generally part of their project inspection or completion punch list either.

OTOH, I think bike parking is more important at commercial destinations than in residential settings, I would not leave my bike however well secured, in any apartment bike storage area in Portland these days.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago

“Rubio, Mapps and Ryan seemed to be working collaboratively on streamlining government.”

If they are working together to make building less sustainable or less beneficial to the public, then that might not be a good thing.

was carless
was carless
1 year ago
Reply to  Ryan

Yeah, architects love to complain about bike parking.

However, just wait until they find out that Oregon started requiring 10% of all parking for new buildings in the state to have EV chargers, as of 2021.

cct
cct
1 year ago

‘We did a survey; next step is to do a study to understand the survey.’ Then some focus groups no doubt. There’s ONE reason it takes so long to get things done in Portland. Not mentioned here is that IIRC, much of the BDS budget came from fees; when 2008 cratered the new/remodel business, those fees went away. So did staff. It went from ‘walk in, see someone, get answers on your design right there, walk out’ to ‘we’re here every Tuesday for 4 hours; get in line.’ I have no idea if they expanded staff since then, or if they’re still working on a skeleton crew, but the difference between 2008 and 2011 was massive.

Also, asking developers which part they don’t like is hilarious; every answer is gonna be “the one that costs me money.”

JR
JR
1 year ago

I was one of the 3,000 respondents to this survey. It was hard to just pick five things that the city can do better to get building permits issued. The number one issue is staff review timeliness/responsiveness (or lack thereof). My personal experience with bike parking requirements is that the dimensional requirements, access to electrical outlets, security system requirements, long-term vs. short term requirements, etc all make this a very confusing and complex set of requirements – adding to frustration and delays in getting permits issued. All this regulation when the city just went through the process of eliminating car parking requirements for most development. The idea behind removing the car parking requirements was to let the market decide if and how much car parking they want to provide. Now, we can’t let the market decide if and how much bike parking they want to provide. The parking requirements today seem to be comparable to the number and size of bike parking facilities I observed in Copenhagen, but without the actual bike use to match it. Maybe if the city made some serious inroads in bike infrastructure would these bike parking requirements make sense.

Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago

I hate to say I agree with this, but I do. I remember touring the massively huge secure bike parking area at Hassalo on 8th, with multiple bike parking spaces per unit, well after the building was fully leased up, and it was maybe 10% occupied. It was a massive waste of space and money. I was told most residents preferred to just keep their bikes inside their apartments and that the bike parking was massively overbuilt due to these requirements.

Minimum bike parking requirements are well-intentioned, but the same logic applies to this as it does to minimum parking requirements, where some planners are coming up with arbitrary formulas that determine the amount of parking, with no context-sensitive considerations for how likely a building is to have people with bikes, and how many, and peoples’ preferences. I’m not saying there should be no minimums at all, since bikes are awesome, but it seems like the requirements are way too high and the regulations too onerous to meet.

Romy G
Romy G
1 year ago
Reply to  Atreus

Yeah I NEVER put my bike in the shared storage at my complex . It’s just way too risky. I don’t have the $ to replace if it gets nipped. Probably safe to do in Copenhagen, but not in current day Portland.

Romy G
Romy G
1 year ago

State of emergency on housing declared by Kotek? Oh please. How long have we had a homeless state of emergency in Portland and all the while homelessness just keeps getting worse and worse despite spending more and more $ every year. I won’t hold my breath for this “latest emergency” to do anything.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago

I’ll just use this opportunity to promote the idea that instead of large bike parking facilities on the ground floor, each apartment should have a storage locker big enough to store a bike and/or other wet sporting gear that is accessible from both inside and outside the unit. That would let people keep bikes more safely in their unit, without requiring that they be stored in or wheeled through a living area.

Such a locker would also be useful to people who don’t have bikes.

Now back to discussing how hard it is for those poor developers to follow our relatively modest building code, and how if they could just make more money, they would solve our low income housing crisis.

Champs
Champs
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

The bike rooms are nice in theory and it gives them some use for the ground floor. It should be a win-win, but but in practice these bike rooms are a liability for management and tenants.

As much as I mock the pet wash stations, they’re not a lot of trouble. Might be a nice place to clean one’s bike off before bringing it upstairs…

Todd/Boulanger
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Watts, sounds like you are recommending every apartment have an enclosed porch or mud room. 😉

oh well, I guess if less great bike parking is built we will have to go back to the old ad hoc solution for secure bike parking…buy a van or mini bus to store our bike and park it in the abundant parking garages that seem to be easily funded and built for most residential projects.

bbcc
bbcc
1 year ago

This is interesting. I wonder if the BDS has incentive to identify bike parking as an issue in the case that it’d be easiest to amend or change on their end. If you asked me “what’s the best metric to figure out what we should change in the building approval process?” I probably wouldn’t say “look at the number of survey responses which listed it in their top 5 issues.”

For one thing, it looks like bike parking was listed first in a long list of options, so responses are going to be biased towards it. For another thing, a higher % of respondents listed SDCs as the top priority for increasing supply (30% vs 24%), which I think is a more intuitive statistic for answering this question.

Finally, they both pale in comparison to the Other option, which 70% of respondents listed as their top priority. That option is free text and harder to analyze, but it’s really important to keep in mind that MOST respondents identified an unlisted option as their top priority! I don’t know that the city will have the analytical chops to pull meaningful insights from those free text responses, and they’ll probably just use these results to confirm their bias for making small, easy changes on their end. It’s too bad that bike parking requirements might get nixed as a result.

Todd/Boulanger
1 year ago
Reply to  bbcc

Let a AI robot to the analysis of öther¨

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  bbcc

That’s several things that seem so obvious once you pointed them out.

Once you pointed out that “other” is the most popular to priority, it does look like the City either intentionally left off things it doesn’t want to address, or is oblivious to them. Either is bad.

It reminds me of so many public project presentations I’ve been to, where the moderator makes a show of writing down concerns and questions from the public. They love writing down simple ones that they know they can address (“Can you be sure to put a detour sign by the park?”) but they often never even right down the big ones (“Your whole project is not legal under zoning code section x”).

Your comment also ties in with my earlier one–if the City really wants to know what’s stopping housing from getting built, don’t ask the people involved in projects that have made it into permit stage–ask the ones whose projects were killed off before they could get off the ground by say, unworkable zoning or insurmountable seismic upgrade regulations–in other words, the problems that aren’t as easy to address as tweaking bike parking standards.

Chris
Chris
1 year ago

I’m working on bike parking requirements for another municipality and got spooked by this survey at first, but then I realized we probably can’t take this at face value when “bird friendly glazing” came second. You can meet that requirement with sticker dots placed on the glass so it’s pretty hard to believe that it’s really slowing down housing construction.

Victor
Victor
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris

Chris, bike parking survey is real. I’m currently working on a 15 unit project and current bike parking code essentially reduces the project by 1 unit. That means potentailly 1 less unit for every 15 units in the city of Portland going forward.

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
1 year ago

The survey question was what requirements should be changed to “increase housing production”. So it’s not exactly “delays”, except in a citywide sense. Changes like reducing bike parking might not make a building finished faster, but it might allow more units in the building. So reducing requirements could result in more housing production, as well as providing more housing in key bike-friendly, transit-friendly locations. (Increased height and/or FAR and reduced setbacks would help too.)

John
John
1 year ago

I read through 15 pages of bicycle parking regulations and thought, wow, these are complicated. I felt like I’d need an engineering degree to go along with my law degree in order to design bike parking. I can only imagine the tedium and delays of negotiating a permit with these byzantine regulations. I’m 100% pro-bike, but these regs are a problem. Way too much process. The regulations should be streamlined and simplified.

Jongen
Jongen
1 year ago

How does the need for MORE bike parking dovetail with the sharp decline in PDX cycling? We face a housing crisis daily, with no end or solution in sight, yet we are blinded by cycling self-interest.

I’m all for increased and improved cycling infrastructure of all types. But not at the expense of potential improvements to address the issues that have transformed our city so drastically in the past 5-10 years: Unchecked growth, a shocking houseless crisis, etc.

Balance is needed. Perception of the builders, while perhaps skewed, is reality.

was carless
was carless
1 year ago

I work in the construction field, permitting side, and bike parking requirements barely garner a mention in any design meetings with clients. Owners want to reduce costs, but bike parking is pretty low on the list of issues anyone has with the city…. of which there is a long, long list of complaints.

What are big issues? Permitting and SDC fees for one. Portland permit fees are brutal. Onerous and burdensome Portland building code interpretations and what value some of these reviews have on a project (example – city took 9 months to approve a 50′ sidewalk extension in an industrial parking area once). And the extraordinarily long permit review period for new projects which can take upwards of a year depending on the review level required at the city. This has major impacts on project finances and feasibility.

But I have worked in the Portland market for a decade and nobody cares about the bike parking requirements. Sure, they try to get out of them, just like developers will try to get out of the parking and nonconforming site upgrades that Portland requires which can drag on permitting for several extra months for a simple remodel.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 year ago

Commenters can slam developers all they want, but I see no reason they would obfuscate on a survey like this. It probably really is an issue for them, and cycling advocates should pay attention. Especially since, my totally subjective survey tells me that something like 2% of bike staples are actually being used at any given time. It is kind of like curb cuts for the disabled; everybody thinks they are a great idea, but they are expensive and, except for in certain limited situations, rarely used. Regulations have consequences.