ACTION ALERT: Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday evening! Refer to “Agenda Item 68: Parking Toolkit and Parking Permit Pilots.” Let them know that this is long overdue and tell them how excited you are to see Portland finally moving towards better parking policy!
It’s been almost 5 years since the Portland City Council directed the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to develop a residential parking permit (RPP) proposal, two years since a stakeholder committee overwhelmingly endorsed a framework, and one year since council first had an opportunity to approve the plan, so where is it?
On Wednesday January 24th City Council will review (and hopefully approve) the “Parking Toolkit” designed by the Centers + Corridors committee and authorize PBOT to pilot the new residential permit system in a few eastside neighborhoods. Parking reform may not be politically popular, but it is some of the most effective transportation demand management policy that exists. A robust parking permit program would help Portland meet climate action and mode-share goals as well as encourage the building of more abundant and more affordable housing.
Since May 2017, at least 8 neighborhoods and one neighborhood coalition have joined 20 members of the Centers + Corridors Parking Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee in asking Commissioner Dan Saltzman to provide impacted neighborhoods with effective options to manage parking.
Neighborhoods like Boise and Richmond were found, at the time of the parking study, to be in need of parking management, but they were not nearly as congested as NW Portland. It’s always better to manage an emerging problem before it becomes a crisis. The multi-year delay in approving the permit program has surely allowed the problem to worsen in these neighborhoods.
Northwest Portland was expected to be the initial testbed for the framework which allows for using higher permit prices to manage demand and restricting the number of permits sold, in total and per household. That process has been rocky, however, as attempts by the NW Portland Parking Committee to only restrict the number of permits allowed for residents of larger multi-family buildings, while allowing unlimited permits for other residents, met strong resistance from building managers. The NW Portland pilot has led to an increase in the permit cost (from $60/year to $180 year with discounts for low income households); the surcharge money is being spent to subsidize transit and bike share for residents who do not renew permits.
But Northwest Portland, as committee members argued, was “not included in the [initial] study and [is] a neighborhood with very different characteristics and history than the inner SE and NE neighborhoods which clamored for [parking management options].” Much of the trouble in NW Portland is the result of a system where far too many permits are already outstanding, and parking has long been in short supply and in high demand.