Portland Shoupistas is an advocacy group made up of people who would like to see more progressive parking policy adopted in Portland (and, of course, elsewhere).
In 2012 Portland’s SE Division Street experienced a rapid development boom. Demand for housing in the city had increased rapidly as the economic recovery gained steam. Capital that had been tied up for years was flowing into developer’s bank accounts. At the same time, banks were increasingly willing to fund development of apartment buildings with little or no on-site parking.
Portland has, at times, been at the vanguard of parking policy. In 2000, the Portland city council (which at the time featured current Mayor Charlie Hales as a commissioner) changed zoning laws to allow apartments in commercial zones near high frequency transit to be built with no parking. The logic for this is sound, parking costs money, a lot of money. Ample parking induces car ownership as well. Since parking isn’t a human necessity, like food, shelter, or health care, it’s a finite resource that market economics are fairly good at handling.
The problem was, and still is, that we don’t have a functioning market for parking in Portland. Parking is “free” in virtually all Portland residential neighborhoods. There exists a permit program, but it’s not suitable to manage an excess of residential vehicles. With unregulated free parking on side streets, it is a viable financial strategy for developers to push the burden of storing tenant vehicles to the surrounding neighborhoods. Even in apartments with on-site parking, rental of a space often costs money, while parking on the street doesn’t. You can guess where people go.
Neighbors along SE Division St. and in other neighborhoods experiencing development booms got very angry. They petitioned the city to take action and a proposal to institute mandatory minimums (although only for buildings with more than 30 units and at a relatively low ratio) on new construction. The debate moved from the streets to the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission and then on to City Hall.
Through this process an informal group of Portland progressives formed to write collective letters opposing mandatory minimum parking under the name “Portland Neighbors for Sustainable Development.” Members of the group reached out to Professor Donald Shoup, who wrote an op-ed in the Oregonian proposing overnight permits as an alternative solution. Portland Shoupistas is an offshoot of that group focused on the current political process.
Unfortunately, Mayor Hales was unwilling to defend his own policy from 12 years prior and a new set of requirements went into effect in 2013. Council, at the same time directed the Portland Bureau of Transportation to review the city’s parking policy and code and to develop a toolkit of parking management options for neighborhoods to use in the future.
That process began in 2014 and is currently underway. The city seated two Stakeholder Advisory Committees. One for the “Centers and Corridors” which is considered and proposed residential permit policy and another for a review of the “Central City Parking Policy,” which includes dynamic pricing of meters, and parking maximums for downtown development.
Those committees are wrapped up and in late 2015 and their recommendations will enter the realm of public debate and consideration by city council. In order to pass the most progressive set of parking policy possible at this critical opportunity, we will need to be organized. Parking is an electric rail of politics. People will be angry and upset at the idea of paying for a public resource that is widely considered a private property. The Shoupistas of Portland must unite to educate council and the public if we wish to see these policies in action.
Who is Portland Shoupistas
More than 70 people have joined the PDX Shoupista mailing list with more than 40 having participated in a Shoupista action.
Portland Shoupistas was started by Tony Jordan. Tony is a software engineer, former union organizer, and neighborhood activist. Tony served on both committees mentioned above. You can contact Tony on twitter @twjpdx23 or by email twjordan (at) gmail.com