It took almost four years, but Portland’s growing Shoupista movement succeeded in effectively repealing off-street parking requirements imposed in 2013. This victory demonstrates that parking policy is a viable target for reformers looking to change city policies to encourage more affordable housing, increase use of alternative transportation modes, and take action on climate change.
On November 22nd, the Portland City Council voted to waive minimum parking requirements in new developments near frequent transit if those developments contain affordable housing units. The Comprehensive Plan containing the new rules should go into effect in January 2018, but the parking requirements will most likely fade away much sooner, in February 2017. On December 13, 2016, council is poised to approve an inclusionary housing package that includes the same waiver for parking requirements in exchange for affordable housing. The inclusionary housing rules require affordable homes in any building with 20 or more units. Since parking requirements aren’t triggered until 31 units are built, parking requirements will be waived for (nearly) all new buildings starting in February 2017.
The hearing, which you can watch here, was intriguing. The passage of amendment 34 was in serious doubt up to the day of the vote. Commissioner Dan Saltzman had gone on record as opposing removal of the requirements (he wanted to maintain them as a bargaining chit for the inclusionary housing bill) and Commissioner Nick Fish was keeping his cards close to his chest on this one. Commissioner Fish, who has a reputation for being a consensus builder, ended up crafting a compromise amendment which tied the waiver to affordable housing, this brought Saltzman into the fold and ended up winning support for a 4-1 vote in which Commissioner Steve Novick cast a protest vote. Commissioner Amanda Fritz’s support for the amendment (in fact she brought the amendment to the table) was so surprising that it seemed there had to be some catch, a poison pill perhaps, in the amendment. As it turns out, Commissioner Fritz was confused about what she was voting for and has asked council to hold another vote. We expect that Commissioner Novick will switch his vote as well if they re-vote, maintaining a 4-1 majority for this amendment.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz is so committed to car culture that she wants to make sure her record doesn’t reflect a vote against more parking for cars.
We Did It And We’ll Do It Again
Portland Shoupistas has grown, in just one short year, into Portlanders for Parking Reform, a group with credibility and a number of significant wins under our belt. Progressive parking policy is a critical component to providing more affordable housing and encouraging people to drive less, but there have been few, if any, examples of grassroots movements committed to demanding parking reform.
Thank you and congratulations to the hundreds of people who have participated in our actions, amplified our message, and gotten informed about the high costs of our current parking policies. We have a lot more work to do, in Portland and elsewhere, and we plan to keep at it.
What Is Next?
This next week there are two important votes at Portland City Council that are related to parking minimums.
On Tuesday, December 13th, council will hold a hearing a vote on the Inclusionary Housing package mentioned above. Portland’s Shoupistas are encouraged to support this package as it is the action which will effectively repeal parking minimums. There is a change we would like to see in this package: developers who pay in-lieu fees rather than building affordable units are still required to build parking; these developers should be offered an in-lieu option for parking as well. Those additional fees could go directly to affordable housing funds or towards affordable transit subsidies for low income residents. You can send an email to email@example.com and to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Inclusionary Housing.” Include your name and address.
Residential Parking Permits
On Thursday, December 15th, council will hold a hearing and vote on a new overnight Residential Parking Permit program for Portland neighborhoods. This program, which is very close to what we described in our post in January 2016, is a critical step towards managing on-street parking in Portland. The proposal is fairly flexible and we expect that over the next few years a very strong permit program will take shape.
There are two important parts to this proposal that Shoupistas should support. First, update purpose of Portland’s permit program to clarify that it is a “tool to achieve the City’s mode split goals by promoting the use of mass transit, car pooling, bicycling, and walking.” Secondly, the resolution will grant administrative rule-making power, including base permit prices, for the program to the Director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. This is very important as it will allow the management of the public resource of on-street parking to be implemented with much less political interference.
You can send an email encouraging council to pass this package to email@example.com with the subject “Residential Permit Program.” Include your name and address.