Northwest Portland has been the site of a PBOT parking management pilot for serveral years and the city is looking to apply what it has learned in that pilot to other parking management districts.
On Wednesday, December 19th, City Council will receive a report from PBOT on the activities and results of parking management strategies in the NW District. Council will then be asked to approve a list of “Parking Permit Surcharge Revenue Allocation Guidelines” which define what programs and projects are eligible for funding from permit surcharge revenues.
NW PDX is trailblazing on permits
The report on Zone M parking permits and management is a case study for modern residential parking management. Since council denied demands for residential parking requirements in 2016, the NW Parking Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) has recommended increases in parking permits prices ($180 per year for a first permit with a discount for low income residents available) and progressive pricing for multiple permits ($360/year for the second permit and $540/year for each permit thereafter).
The process hasn’t been without pitfalls, however, A recommendation by the SAC to limit permits available to residents of apartment buildings was jettisoned due to being unfair to residents of older buildings. The current policy does limit the number of permits available to residents of buildings permitted since 2013.
Where does the money go?
The big decision for City Council is whether to approve the surcharge revenue allocation guidelines.
To make progress on climate action goals we must reduce car trips in the central city and using parking revenues to build parking garages or additional supply undermines those efforts.
To that end, the eligible project examples given in the guidelines lean heavily toward subsidizing transit and cycling via universal transit passes and transportation wallets. Capital projects are included as well, but similarly the eligible projects are focused on making walking, cycling, scooting, and riding transit more safe, comfortable, and convenient.
More work to be done
The results of the NW parking pilot are encouraging, but there is a lot more that could be done. By eliminating guest permits and placing more stringent restrictions and higher prices on employee permits, the total number of permits sold in 2017 was 1,574 fewer than in 2016, but resudent permits sold increased by 6%.
This doesn’t mean the policy isn’t working, given the amount of housing coming online in the permit zone, an increase of only 188 resident permits is good, but higher annual fees are probably needed to really have an impact on parking demand. At $180 a year, the city is renting some of the most valuable property it owns for $1 per square foot a year, or $0.50 per stall per day, or $15 per stall per month. No matter how you look at it, it’s a steal.
Another improvement to NW parking management would be to extend the hours of enforcement at parking meters later into the evening. Such a move is justified by occupancy rates in the evening dining/entertainment hours and it would have a number of beneficial impacts. Residents would have an easier time finding parking in meter zones if enforcement were extended and businesses in the area, particularly restaurants, would benefit from an additional wave of patrons as parking stalls would turn over an additional time in the early evening.
Such a change was, in fact, recommended by the SAC and was slated to come before council for approval on Wednesday, but it was pulled and delayed until later next year.
Tell council what you think
The council hearing is scheduled for 3PM on Wednesday, December 19th. Public comment is accepted in person or via firstname.lastname@example.org