The empty apartment garage at NE 12th and Ankeny. (Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)
At the risk of overloading BikePortland with one subject (we’ll also be covering the outcome of this afternoon’s hearing about parking vs. housing in northwest Portland), one pretty simple fact seems to be getting lost in the city’s big transportation debate of the moment.
More or bigger parking garages will do nothing to reduce curbside parking unless people have some new reason to use them.
Right now, in Portland’s Northwest District, a parking space in a garage or lot costs about $1,800 per year. A city permit to hunt for space on the public curb costs $60 per year.
So what on earth is going to motivate anyone to park their car in the bigger garages that the city’s law would mandate? There’s only one answer: It would have to remain extremely annoying to find street parking in the Northwest District.
So if the only way this policy works is if the curbs of the Northwest District remain crowded, what is the point of mandatory garages in the first place?
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.”
Neighborhoods would have to opt into the new permit program, and a majority of addresses in the area’s residential zones would have to vote for it. Residents of buildings in adjoining mixed-use zones wouldn’t get to vote.
Though lovers of bikes, transit and walking hate to admit it, driving a car is often the most convenient way to get around Portland. Until we start reconfiguring our roads to give more space to bicycling and dedicated transit lines, that will likely remain the case years into the future.
An odd thing about driving is that not only is it usually convenient; it’s also usually pretty cheap.
The question is, why are we also going out of our way to make driving so cheap?
At least, that’s the question asked Sunday by Tony Jordan, a member of the committee that’s currently advising the city on whether it should raise its downtown parking rates from $1.60 to $2 per hour.
Nobody is claiming that an opt-in neighborhood parking permit system — the main measure the city is considering — is anything close to a solution for Portlanders searching for housing amid one of the country’s worst housing shortages. Still, it was odd this week to watch Portland’s City Council lament as if capitalism mandated that even the very poor must pay for 130 square feet of bedroom, and then 21 hours later debate whether the government should continue to guarantee free 130-square-foot parking spaces almost everywhere in the city.
Space is valuable. But who wants to vote on what it’s worth? (Photos: M.Andersen and J.Maus/BikePortland)
Last year, Portland hired a top-dollar consulting firm for advice on the best way to manage the auto parking that’s become increasingly scarce in a few neighborhoods.
Twelve months later, the city is taking steps toward some of its recommendations: for example, proposing an opt-in parking permit system that would let residential neighborhoods block their street parking spaces from being used by people living or shopping on commercial corridors.
But at the moment, Portland is on course to ignore a different suggestion made very clearly by the firm, Nelson\Nygaard: that elected officials should “never, ever” be the ones to set the price of parking.
Portland Bureau of Transportation planner Grant Morehead discusses parking policies with the city’s Centers and Corridors parking stakeholder committee. (Photos: M.Andersen and J.Maus/BikePortland)
Central-city apartment dwellers might want to start looking into that whole car-free thing pretty soon.
An advisory committee composed almost entirely of residents of residential zones gave a general thumbs-up Wednesday night to a city proposal that could let residents of residential zones vote to prevent people who live on commercial streets from buying overnight parking permits in their neighborhoods.
Because most of Portland’s commercial main streets are zoned for mixed-use or employment, the proposed parking permit system — which would also charge residential permit holders a yet-to-be determined monthly or annual fee for curbside parking — would effectively let residents just off of commercial corridors remove curbside parking rights from residents of most nearby multifamily buildings.
The city’s idea is that such a system would lead developers of buildings on commercial corridors to include more on-site auto parking in their new buildings, or else to market their buildings more successfully to car-free residents.