In September, Portland’s Bureau of Development Services released a review of the impact of the inclusionary housing (IH) policy enacted in February 2017. Highlighted in the review are three proposed buildings in Sellwood which make up the bulk of “good news” in the report, but the news would be better if Portland would stop requiring mandatory shelter for cars.
Urban Development Group (UDG), the developer, was initially planning to build three buildings in Sellwood containing a total of 187 market-rate apartments and 46 required car parking stalls. After the passage of the inclusionary housing rules, the developer sought assistance to determine the feasibility of utilizing the parking waiver for projects under the IH program to, instead, build 210 total units, 170 at market-rate, 31 affordable to households making 60% of the MFI and 9 for households at 80% of MFI, with no on-site car parking.
While transit-frequency requirements disqualified one of the buildings from receiving a waiver for mandatory car parking, UDG is still pursuing the project reconfiguration, albeit with less affordable housing and more car parking. The most current proposal includes 170 market-rate units, 29 units at 60% MFI and 9 units at 80% MFI, along with required 19 car parking stalls at 1717 SE Tenino.
This reconfiguration demonstrates the impact that parking requirements have on affordability. Parking requirements for mid-sized housing projects (50-150 units) are suppressive and expensive. When allowed to build 27 fewer parking stalls, UDG is willing (and able) to build 21 more homes total and 38 permanently affordable units.
Portland is in dire need of more affordable housing and the city should be aggressively seeking to work with developers who are willing to participate in the IH program. If UDG wasn’t required to build shelter for 19 cars at SE Tenino, what other incentives or changes could unlock the potential to build another 15 or 20 homes, including several more affordable units. Portland should eliminate all parking requirements for multi-family housing and use parking management, such as residential permits, to encourage developers to “right-size” their parking.