Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission, on March 8, heard staff recommendations to impose mandatory minimum parking requirements in densely populated NW Portland.
Northwest Portland, because it is in a plan district, was left out zoning changes passed in 2013 which required parking in new multi-family developments with more than 30 housing units. Neighbors argued that the region was short 2000 parking spaces already and that new developments proposed would exacerbate the problem further in the future.
Housing affordability advocates, transportation activists, and Portland Shoupistas countered that minimum requirements were a step in the wrong direction during a housing crisis. Portland Shoupistas pointed out that there are many parking management strategies available to the district, such as limiting the number of permits and charging market rates, that would lead to right-sized parking being built at the developer’s discretion.
Commissioners agreed with concerns about the effect of minimum requirements on housing affordability and cited lack of any data or studies on the impact of the 2013 requirements as a reason to proceed with caution.
Commissioner Chris Smith moved to recommend only the shared parking provisions of the staff proposal, which would allow for more flexible use of off street parking. The commission also recommended that the process to gain approval for shared parking be streamlined.
The recommendations will be heard at City Council where it is likely some NW residents will attempt to convince city commissioners to impose requirements contrary to the recommendation of the PSC. Such an outcome, however, is far less likely now due, in part, to the work of Portland Shoupistas and our allies.
Marsha Hanchrow says
Thank you, Tony. Cheers, always, to Chris Smith.
At a recent NWDA transportation meeting, I got to look at existing mode splits for people commuting to the NW neighborhood, and they were – in a word – dreadful. Transit and bike mode share is mired in the low single digits. ACS commuting data for NW residents shows that transit use is around 20-25 percent, but bike use doesn’t get higher than 9 percent (walking is pretty popular, between 15-25 percent). Driving alone to work still represents the undisputed plurality of residents in the neighborhood.
We need to start asking what it would take to convince more people that carfree living in Northwest Portland – the most dense, walkable neighborhood in the state – is a realistic option, instead of demanding mandatory parking minimums.
Allan Rudwick says
I think a big part of the problem is Portland’s interaction with the west side. Specifically: many folks that work west of the hills including all the way out to Intel want to live in Portland, and NW Portland is one of the shortest commutes from a ‘cool neighborhood’ to places out off of the Sunset Highway. Unless this changes, Mode share will stay like it is. We need more congestion, essentially
Far westside commuting explains some of this data but not all, especially when looking at the abysmal mode splits for people who work in NW. I’d reason that there are many people who live in Portland proper (east of the river) that could theoretically take transit or bike to their job and drive alone instead, for whatever reason.
Iain (@maccoinnich) says
On a procedural level I assume that what happens now is that the code amendment package goes to City Council, absent the parking minimums? So even if people testify in favor of adding the minimums back in, I think that would require a Commissioner to introduce an amendment at the first reading, with the opportunity for public testimony at the second reading?
Ben Schonberger (@SchonbergerBen) says
I believe the City Councilors can do whatever they damn well please. Stakeholder and planning commission recommendations are just information. It’s a little harder on them politically to ignore the planning commission, but not much. You see them add in amendments and make up policy on the fly all the time.
Doug Klotz says
Like the original Council hearing on the Planning Commission-recommended 40-unit minimum for parking requirements. Fritz wanted them to start at 20. Nick Fish spoke up in the hearing and said how about 30 units. And that’s what passed.