How parking is managed in neighborhoods and adjacent commercial districts can have a huge impact on the cycling environment. (Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
(Publisher’s note: This week we’re excited to highlight a few of the projects created by students in Portland State University’s Traffic and Transportation course. As we reported in a profile earlier this year, the class has had a vast impact on Portland in numerous ways by churning out over 1,200 smart and inspired graduates since 1991. We worked with class assistant Rebecca Hamilton (a graduate herself who now works at Metro) to share three of the projects that will be presented by students in class later this week.)
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.”
Everyone knows Multnomah County is growing, and that most new residents are buying or bringing in cars, too. In all, state records show, 8,709 more passenger vehicles are registered in the county than there were in 2007.
But a review of car registration statistics shows that if passenger vehicle ownership were still as popular in the county as it was in 2007, it would have had to find room for 38,501 more cars and trucks instead.
How many cars are we doing without? Well, if we built a parking lot to hold the 38,501 cars that didn’t show up and assumed a standard 325 square feet per space, we’d need about 287 acres of land. For the sake of scale, that’s everything between NE Killingsworth, Skidmore, Rodney and 16th:
A sign at New Seasons Market on Williams Avenue. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)
The costs of “free” parking have been hidden inside the price of almost everything we buy, but it’s rare to see an example as straightforward as this one.
The New Seasons Market on Williams Avenue, which like virtually every grocery store in the city doesn’t charge you to park a car on their property, recently started renting 47 parking spaces from an apartment building across Ivy Street that charges $175 a month for resident parking.
New Seasons won’t disclose what it’s paying to rent the new spaces — “we keep our real estate transactions confidential,” spokeswoman Mea Irving said Wednesday — but if they were paying the same $175 per month as residents, those 47 spaces would cost $98,700 a year.
In 2013, when the Portland City Council began requiring most new apartment buildings of 30 or more units to include on-site parking garages, housing watchdogs warned that this would drive up the prices of newly built apartments.
Because the city still lets anyone park for free on public streets, they predicted, landlords wouldn’t be able to charge car owners for the actual cost of building parking spaces, which can come to $100 to $200 per month. So the cost of the garages would be built into the price of every new bedroom instead, further skewing new construction toward luxury units.
Three years later, rough data suggests that this could be exactly what happened.
It’s truly amazing what we sacrifice “for the love of cars” as this advertising mural in downtown Portland says. (Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
Auto parking is in a major state of flux right now. Our city is in the middle of major reform to its parking policies with an eye toward weening people off free and abundant storage of their motor vehicles, while at the same time we are still investing millions into huge parking garages in the central city. For people who care about great cities and quality public spaces, the time is now to get educated and engaged about this issue.
That’s why we’re excited to announce our upcoming Wonk Night. Next Tuesday join local experts and advocates for a night of networking and conversations that will unlock your parking policy achievement badge. Here’s what we’ve got lined up so far:
The planned parking garage and hotel are shown in green. All the whited-out areas are spaces where there is an existing above-ground parking lot. This does not include on-street parking or below-ground parking. (Image: Google)
The Portland Development Commission’s startling new approach of publicly financing massive parking garages to pay their future operating costs should concern any citizen who does not want Detroit-style bankrupt public spaces.