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After 83 cars park in Mississippi Ave bike lanes, city issues 83 tickets

After 83 cars park in Mississippi Ave bike lanes, city issues 83 tickets

1

Somebody started it and many others decided to follow suit. Bad idea.
(Photo: Portland Bureau of Transportation parking enforcement)

When an urban neighborhood holds a beloved street festival, space becomes scarce — and less space-efficient transportation options become a much worse way to get there.

A single city parking enforcement officer almost certainly paid for his or her time at the Mississippi Street Fair Saturday, issuing 83 parking tickets for $80 each to cars parked in Mississippi’s bike lanes during the annual north Portland festival.

City code prohibits parking any vehicle “on or within a bicycle lane, path, or trail,” among other places.

The Mississippi Street Fair’s website warned that “parking enforcement will be out” and highlighted the paid parking lots at two nearby schools, with proceeds to benefit the schools. It also noted three temporary bike parking locations and transit access via the Yellow Line and TriMet’s frequent No. 4 bus line.

City spokeswoman Hannah Schafer said Monday, in response to our email query based on some Twitter chatter, that the city’s parking hotline (503-823-5195) had “received a service request at 12:22 p.m. on Saturday.”







Schafer sent over some photos taken by the enforcement officer who responded to the call:

2 (1)

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4 (1)

This definitely isn’t the first time a Portland bike lane has been illegally converted to parking, and it won’t be the last. The city’s complaint-driven parking hotline can often be frustratingly inconsistent or slow to respond.

But we’re willing to bet this’ll be the last time for at least 83 attendees of the Mississippi Street Fair.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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Council pulls parking mandate after affordability advocates pile into hearing

Council pulls parking mandate after affordability advocates pile into hearing

Portland City Council

Portland City Council: Steve Novick, Amanda Fritz, Charlie Hales, Dan Saltzman and Nick Fish.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Five days after the city council seemed headed for a vote to mandate garages in larger transit-oriented apartment buildings in the Northwest District, it’s put the proposal on hold.

The decision came after opponents of mandatory parking organized a letter-writing campaign and then outnumbered supporters nearly three to one at the council’s Wednesday hearing.

“We’re going to keep coming up against these choices: do we want a city for people or a city for cars?” said one opponent of the mandate, Rachel Shadoan. “I want a city for people.”

She contrasted Portland with her childhood home of Oklahoma.

“My memories of Oklahoma are of endless driving and miles and miles of parking lots,” she said.

Council says permit changes might better block parking spillover

There were also dissenting voices Wednesday, as well as a general agreement that northwest Portland parking policy needs changes. Among the options discussed were higher street parking permit prices, a cap on the number of total permits issued, some sort of restriction on which buildings could be issued permits or a mandate that applied only to market-rate units.

“As long as parking is cheaper on the street than parking off street, people are going to park on the street.”
— Chris Rall

“As long as parking is cheaper on the street than parking off street, people are going to park on the street,” said Chris Rall, one of many who said parking minimums should be used only as a last resort after other measures are taken.

Four of the five council members seemed responsive to that combination of ideas. Only Commissioner Amanda Fritz said she supported parking minimums for new buildings in the district. But she withdrew that proposal without a vote after it became clear that no other commissioners were eager to endorse it.

“I’ve learned today that there’s a lot of tools at the disposal of NW that we haven’t really explored,” said Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “I don’t want to see this disappear into the ether. I think there’s a sense of urgency, at least in my mind, anyway. I think we owe people in NW one way or the other a decision very soon.”

“This hearing has caused each of us to think about this problem in new and different ways,” said Commissioner Nick Fish. “I love the suggestion that there may be a new and hybrid idea out there that’s worth exploring. I love the idea of looking for a different way of rationing and pricing.”

“Parking minimums are extremely problematic,” Commissioner Steve Novick said. “If you increase the cost of something, you increase the cost of something. There is no way that requiring parking to be built does not drive up the cost.”

Novick said it might be possible to use Northwest to “pilot” new parking permit policies.

Today, the city’s parking permit policy doesn’t cap the number of permits in a given zone. In Northwest Portland, that means a $60-per-year parking permit is sometimes referred to as a “hunting license.” Once it completes a planned expansion, Northwest District’s will have 4,700 spaces available to Zone M permit holders. The city has issued more than 9,000 Zone M parking permits.

As part of Wednesday’s action, the council agreed to make it legal to let institutions like Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital rent out their unused spaces during off-peak hours. That could free up “hundreds” of new parking stalls, a Legacy executive said.

Developer: each parking stall adds $50,000 to building cost

nw portland new units

Each bar represents one building; the vertical axis shows the number of units in each. Buildings marked in orange would have been illegal under the proposed new rule.
(Data: Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Chart: BikePortland.)

As we reported Tuesday, city data show that most new buildings in the Northwest District over the last eight years that have at least 10 units are being built with more than they would have be required to under the proposed rules.

But a few projects, accounting for 23 percent of the area’s new housing supply over that period, have less. One large project, the Tess O’Brien Apartments that start pre-leasing 124 studios of about 330 square feet next week, has no on-site parking at all.

Some people, such as Northwest District resident Iain MacKenzie, said mandatory parking rules would block such niche projects that cater to lower and medium-income people, most of them without cars. MacKenzie, who covers the development industry on his site NextPortland.com, predicted that on-site parking would force developers to build projects with smaller numbers of higher-end units.







The one developer who showed up to testify Wednesday said that if the rules were passed, his firm would simply stop building anything with more than 30 units in order to avoid building any new parking.

“The cost of the parking stalls — they’re around $50,000,” said Frank Stock, vice president at MDC Construction. “If you just do the simple math, that’s decades to recover that cost.”

Others testifying in opposition to the minimums included Sarah Iannarone, who finished third in May’s mayoral primary; Margot Black, an organizer of Portland Tenants United who was speaking for herself; and Tony Jordan of Portlanders for Parking Reform, who had worked for weeks to organize opposition to the proposal.

“Northwest Portland has a toolbox full of parking management strategies at its disposal,” Jordan said. “Expanded permit zones, new meters, the recommended shared parking that we’re asking for — and pretty soon we should have better permit programs available as well. So I think there’s much less risk right now in waiting to see how these more flexible and equitable policies play out and then adjust them to work better, rather than applying a policy that might not work very much and certainly would exacerbate the housing crisis.”

Resident: Garages are needed so children can live in Northwest

117 NW Trinity 1912
117 NW Trinity Place, built in 1912, is one of many Northwest District buildings with no on-site parking.

Most of the handful of people who testified Wednesday in support of mandatory parking said they share the civic goals of those on the other side.

“Of course we need more housing,” said Wendy Chung. “Of course we need less cars.”

But Chung predicted that 330-square-foot studios with no on-site parking would become filled with “single professionals.” If all new buildings were required to have on-site parking, she said, then more people with children or disabilities would be able to live in the area because those people, she said, need to own cars.

Chung noted that apartments in MacKenzie’s 89-year-old building, which has no on-site parking, are renting for several hundred dollars less than smaller apartments in the new Tess O’Brien building. She said she wished that new market-rate units like Tess O’Brien weren’t allowed in her neighborhood at all — only buildings that would offer below-market rents.

Many of those backing the mandate, including three members of the Northwest Parking Stakeholder Committee, emphasized that they were asking only to be treated like the rest of the city. In 2013, the city began requiring most buildings with 30 or more units to have parking, even if they’re next to a frequent transit line.

“I see the parking minimums as a little bit of a tourniquet to stop the intense bleeding,” said Karen Karllson, a member of the committee which had voted unanimously to back the plan with new minimums included.

“I don’t remember that kind of unanimity in our past discussions,” Commissioner Fritz noted.

Novick: Citywide permit option might come to council within months

Street fee press conference-1

Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick.

Commissioner Fish, for his part, reminded the room Wednesday that the 2013 citywide mandate was “never meant to be the final product” and tweaks might be appropriate.

“We called it an interim solution,” he said. “We’re long overdue, actually, to take a look at it. … It appears to be creating incentives to smaller-scale development, which is quite contrary to our development plan.”

One possible solution before the city is to move on a proposal that a team at the Portland Bureau of Transportation spent most of last year developing: a new residential parking permit system that would enforce parking overnight, cap the total number of permits, and could charge more than $60 per year.

Commissioner Novick said Wednesday that he had been holding back the permit policy in order to do public outreach on its thorniest question: how to decide who gets to be first in line for the limited supply of street permits. He said he expected it to come to council “within the next few months.”

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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City weighs parking rule for NW that could block a fifth of new homes

City weighs parking rule for NW that could block a fifth of new homes

~1950 Pettygrove.

The Tess O’Brien Apartments on NW 19th and Pettygrove, built with no on-site parking, are the largest project that would have been illegal under a proposal going before city council tomorrow.
(Photo: Ted Timmons)

Portland’s City Council will meet Wednesday to consider a new mandatory parking requirement that, if it had existed for the last eight years, would have illegalized 23 percent of the new housing supply in northwest Portland during the period.

The Tess O’Brien Apartments, a 126-unit project that starts pre-leasing next week and will offer some of the cheapest new market-rate housing in northwest Portland, couldn’t have been built if they’d been required to have 42 on-site parking spaces, its developer said in an interview.

“Do the math,” Martin Kehoe of Portland LEEDS Living said Friday. “The apartments at the Tess O’Brien are between $1250 and $1400 a month. If we were required to build parking, you’d be between $1800 and $2000 a month. … It probably just wouldn’t have been built. And then what’s that going to do to the existing project that’s out there and has been built? It’s just going to drive the rents of those up.”

Kehoe said the Tess O’Brien units, which average 330 square feet, are intended for people who don’t own cars.

“We’ve got free bike parking rooms, you’re a block off the bus, you’re a block off streetcar, you’ve got access to Uber whenever you want it,” he said. “People who move into these apartments … they don’t have cars.”

The proposal up for debate on Wednesday would apply the same rule to the Northwest District, immediately west of Interstate 405, that applies in other neighborhoods outside the central city: buildings with 31 to 40 homes would need at least one parking space for every five units. Buildings with 41 to 50 homes would need one space for every four units. Buildings with 51 or more homes would need one space for every three units.

Mandatory parking minimums would have driven up the construction cost of 305 new homes built in northwest Portland since 2008.

Including the Tess O’Brien Apartments, those mandatory parking minimums would have driven up the construction cost of 305 new homes built in northwest Portland since 2008, city data show, potentially by enough to kill the five new buildings in question. That’s 23 percent of the 1,339 units that were added to northwest by buildings of 10 or more units.

For comparison’s sake, if those 305 new no-parking homes were in a single building, it would have been the sixth largest built in Portland since at least 2000. The largest new building in the Lloyd District, for example, added 337 units to the city’s housing supply.

But most new homes in northwest Portland are in buildings where developers opted to build more than the minimum amount of parking, usually much more, suggesting that new no-parking buildings are a niche market in the Northwest District.

‘We certainly should have the option of no parking’

nw portland new units

Buildings marked in orange would have been illegal under the proposed new rule.
(Data: Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Chart: BikePortland.)

Portland rental vacancy rates have been below 5 percent since 2008. Last year, monthly rent in the average apartment rose $100, with hikes concentrated mostly in older units. In April, the local Barry Apartment Construction Report saw housing supply finally keeping up with demand (a trend confirmed by May Census figures) but still not increasing fast enough for a significant rise in vacancies.

Local home purchase prices, too, have been rising at the fastest rates in the nation.

“It won’t end until we have more balance between supply and demand in the housing market,” University of Oregon economist Tim Duy told The Oregonian last week.

“Demand is severely outpacing supply,” the news report said.

Margot Black, an organizer for the advocacy group Portland Tenants United speaking for herself, said in an interview Monday that she’d spoken with Portland Commissioner Steve Novick last week to oppose new parking minimums in northwest.

“Right now, we should not be doing anything that restricts supply and increases prices,” said Black. “We certainly should have the option of no parking if that means we could have more units at a lower price.”

Parking advisory committee: Every building brings more cars

2018 nw everett 1910 9-20

2018 NW Everett Street.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The proposal to bring parking minimums to the Northwest District comes from the volunteer Northwest Portland Parking Stakeholder Advisory Committee.

“At least half of our committee did not use to support parking minimums,” said Rick Michaelson, who chairs that committee and supports minimums. “We see that the transit system has not expanded rapidly.”

Michaelson said that even in the Footprint apartments, another 50-unit microapartment building in northwest, 16 units have signed up for street parking permits.

“We’re going to see a minimum of 30 percent even for these microapartments,” he said. “We think it’s a fairness issue. We think we need as many opportunities to get the system in balance and make sure that everybody contributes to the parking infrastructure.”

“9700 parking permits have been issued that are competing for the 4100 spaces.”
— Karen Karlsson, NW Portland Parking Stakeholder Advisory Committee

Michaelson predicted that city rates for street parking will go up, which will lead to more demand for off-street parking in the future. He also said a project similar to Tess O’Brien might have penciled out even with 42 on-site parking spaces.

“Some developers are choosing to have parking without affecting the bottom line,” he said.

Michaelson said his committee had discussed other ideas for affordability such as not counting below-market-rate units toward a building’s total, or exempting buildings that offer free TriMet passes to residents.

Karen Karlsson, who also serves on the committee, said her “bottom line” is that “9700 parking permits have been issued that are competing for the 4100 spaces.”

“We really need to find a way to help balance the supply and reduce the demand,” she said. “We need every tool that we can get.”







Council will hold hearing Wednesday and may vote

Portland City Council

Portland City Council: Steve Novick, Amanda Fritz, Charlie Hales, Dan Saltzman and Nick Fish.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Portland Commissioner Steve Novick said Friday that because he assumes “markets operate like markets,” requiring on-site parking in buildings in transit-oriented neighborhoods does tend to drive up housing costs by reducing the supply of new housing.

But Novick said he is considering support for a new parking minimum anyway, at least in the short term, because minimums already exist in most of the city.

“I generally am not excited about constructing lots of new parking,” Novick said. “I don’t think we should continue to build society around the car if we are going to take our climate goals seriously. [But] I am much more sympathetic when folks come from a neighborhood that has meters, has a permit system, has a fair amount of density, and say ‘Hey, we want to be treated the way other folks are treated.’”

The central city, which includes the Pearl District in inner northwest, doesn’t have parking minimums. As in northwest, developers there usually opt to include on-site parking as an amenity for residents who choose to pay extra for it.

Most of the buildings that define northwest Portland were built before the city’s first parking requirements.

But many older apartments and condos in northwest Portland, maybe even most of them, have zero on-site parking. That’s because most of the buildings that define northwest Portland were built before the city’s first parking requirements, which probably date to the 1950s.

In fact, one older apartment building in the district without on-site parking belongs to Michaelson’s real estate company.

For the second half of the 20th century, most new apartment and condo buildings in Portland had garages or parking lots attached. In 2000 the city council, led by then-Commissioner Charlie Hales, eliminated parking minimums for units close to frequent-service transit lines. Starting in 2008, as Portland’s rents began their recent climb, some developers began to secure loans for buildings without on-site parking.

In most of those buildings around Portland’s east side, half or more of households in the no-parking buildings owned at least one car. That meant parking spillover, which led to a backlash from some neighbors.

In 2013, Hales (newly elected as mayor) led approval of what he described as a stopgap measure to require parking at most new buildings of 30 units or more, even if they were within a block of a frequent transit line. But there was one exception: the Northwest District, which was already in the midst of a parking reform program.

Demand-based parking group organizing opposition to rule

park avenue west

Parking excavation beneath the future Park Avenue West tower downtown.
(Photo: GRI.com)

In the three years when many apartment buildings in Portland were being constructed without parking, from 2011 through 2013, average construction costs per apartment fell even though construction costs for other units didn’t.

Then, after parking minimums were reinstated for most transit-oriented buildings in 2013, average construction costs per apartment shot back up even though construction costs for other units didn’t.

Tony Jordan of the group PDX Shoupistas, which advocates for demand-based parking policy, found that the number of buildings going up in Portland with exactly 30 units — the maximum size a transit-oriented building can be in most of the city without triggering parking minimums — is apparently about to soar. There are currently 14 such buildings in development, he calculated last week.

According to city permit data obtained by BikePortland under state open records rules, that compares to eight such buildings over the last 15 years.

Jordan is organizing people to contact the city council Tuesday and/or testify on Wednesday to oppose new minimums.

“In times like this, proposals which curtail the supply of new housing and increase rents should be dead on arrival,” Jordan wrote Monday. “A vote for minimum parking requirements is a vote to make the housing crisis worse.”

Novick says citywide reform is an option, but not yet

housing+construction+ankeny

New homes on Southeast Ankeny Street, built with an on-site garage.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

In an interview Friday, Joan Frederiksen of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability said the city staff does not see a “tradeoff” between space for parking and space for people.

“I wouldn’t use the word tradeoff,” she said. “I think it’s more about balancing. … With this project we are echoing the direction council provided back in 2013, finding that balance between parking and affordability.”

Matt Grumm, a senior policy manager for Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman, put things differently.

“There’s no doubt that these are tradeoffs,” he said. “Parking minimums potentially increase the cost of that housing.”

Grumm said his boss would “wait for the hearing” before deciding how to vote but suggested that maybe developers who opt to include below-market-rate units in their buildings should get a break on parking requirements.

“It’ll be interesting to see if that gets any traction,” he said.

In an email last week, Hales spokeswoman Sara Hottman said the mayor supports the proposal to “extend the City’s minimum parking requirements to the Northwest Plan district.”

There are two other votes on the council: Nick Fish, who proposed the 2013 parking minimums that were passed into code, and Amanda Fritz.

Both Novick and Frederiksen suggested that the city might consider amending its citywide parking minimums at some point in the future.

“Even if we wind up applying parking minimums in northwest next week, I’m really encouraged that I’ve been hearing people opposing parking minimums,” Novick said. “Once we have those new tools available, one option is to revisit the parking minimum requirements throughout the city.”

Novick didn’t respond to a question about when the council is likely to consider his proposal that would let neighborhoods create their own parking permit districts.

Eudaly: “We must start decreasing our reliance on the personal automobile”

NW Portland Week - Day 5-24.jpg

Parking outside the Clearing Cafe on NW Thurman.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Chloe Eudaly, who is running on a housing-affordability platform to replace Novick on the city council, said in an email Monday that she opposes new minimums:

Portland is going through growing pains right now and traffic congestion and parking are high on the list of concerns, but what’s even higher is housing affordability. So when we’re talking about a policy that would increase the cost of housing and decrease the number of units built, such as minimum parking standards for new multi-family developments, we need to consider our options and their impacts very carefully.

I respect the work of the NW Parking SAC, as an almost 20-year former resident of NW Portland I know what a headache parking has become in the area, but I don’t support their proposal of a blanket minimum parking standard for all new multi-dwelling developments of more than 30 units. Knowing that these spaces are likely to be underutilized in many developments and that we must start decreasing our reliance on the personal automobile, I believe we can and must come up with a more nuanced approach, especially in a neighborhood that is so central, dense, and transit-friendly (many NW residents live within 10 blocks of the street car, Max, AND a bus line).

Instead of requiring more parking space, Eudaly suggested requiring developers to offer bus passes, bike-share or car-share memberships, creating shared parking options, and raising on-street permit prices “to more closely reflect the actual cost of providing street parking.”

Other options she suggested included shared parking garages and a “live where you work” program. She, too, suggested a parking exemption for developers that include below-market-rate units.

Black, the tenants organizer, said Portland is facing a difficult transition away from a “small town” where most trips happen by car and most homes have private yards, driveways and “a picket fence.”

“It’s great if you got it, but it’s mathematically impossible for all of us to have it,” she said. “I see Portland really struggling to make this shift into a city from this small-town feel. … We need to shepherd Portland through that paradigm shift.”

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org. The Real Estate Beat is a regular column. You can sign up to get an email of Real Estate Beat posts (and nothing else) here, or read past installments here.

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Multnomah County’s drop in auto ownership since 2007 would fill 287 acres of parking

Multnomah County’s drop in auto ownership since 2007 would fill 287 acres of parking

Everyone knows Multnomah County is growing, and that most new residents are buying or bringing in cars, too. In all, state records show, 8,709 more passenger vehicles are registered in the county than there were in 2007.

But a review of car registration statistics shows that if passenger vehicle ownership were still as popular in the county as it was in 2007, it would have had to find room for 47,210 more cars and trucks instead.

How many cars are we doing without? Well, if we built a parking lot to hold the 38,501 cars that didn’t show up and assumed a standard 325 square feet per space, we’d need about 287 acres of land. For the sake of scale, that’s everything between NE Killingsworth, Skidmore, Rodney and 16th:

alberta parking lot larger

Or, if you prefer, it’s the entire Foster-Powell neighborhood west of SE 73rd Avenue:

fopo parking lot larger

Or it’s Portland’s central business district:

cbd parking lot larger

Or about half of Oxbow Regional Park:

oxbow park parking lot

(Of course, that’d only be enough room to park each car once. In a U.S. city, there are something like 3.3 parking spaces for each car.)

But because of the 7 percentage point drop in per-person car ownership in Multnomah County over the last eight years, those 38,501 cars haven’t arrived.







That’s despite a regional economy that continues to rocket out of the recession, especially in Multnomah County. Despite a U.S. economy that’s been sending off mixed signals, the Portland-area jobs market keeps doing well. It’s ranked 15th of the 50 largest metro areas for job creation since 2008; in the year to April 2016, local jobs grew 3.2 percent, about twice the average rate for metro areas.

But for whatever reason, all the additional money pouring into Portland hasn’t been spent on more cars. Car registration rates have ticked up a bit since the recession, but only slightly.

passenger vehicles per resident

Data: Oregon Department of Transportation and Portland State University. Chart: BikePortland. For readability, axes do not start at zero.

That’s not the case nationwide or in Washington and Clackamas counties. Unlike in Multnomah County, car registration rates there have basically returned to their long-term average rate.

When we last looked at car registration rates, I asked Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute why this ebb in car ownership might be happening.

He said it’s a combination of the Baby Boomers entering retirement and the improvement of non-car transportation options.

“Somebody who 10 years ago would have driven to work is now not only seeing better bicycle facilities and hearing about the importance of healthy lifestyles and getting lectures from their physician about the benefits, but they’re also seeing their neighbors make that shift and it’s a little more socially acceptable,” he said. “When the car breaks down, they’re not going to replace it.”

You can explore the parking lots that weren’t needed on this Google Map we made.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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New Seasons on Williams Ave pays undisclosed sum for 47 more auto parking spaces

New Seasons on Williams Ave pays undisclosed sum for 47 more auto parking spaces

Parking at New Seasons on Williams

A sign at New Seasons Market on Williams Avenue.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The costs of “free” parking have been hidden inside the price of almost everything we buy, but it’s rare to see an example as straightforward as this one.

The New Seasons Market on Williams Avenue, which like virtually every grocery store in the city doesn’t charge you to park a car on their property, recently started renting 47 parking spaces from an apartment building across Ivy Street that charges $175 a month for resident parking.

New Seasons won’t disclose what it’s paying to rent the new spaces — “we keep our real estate transactions confidential,” spokeswoman Mea Irving said Wednesday — but if they were paying the same $175 per month as residents, those 47 spaces would cost $98,700 a year.

They’ll bring the total to 102 auto parking spaces and 112 bike parking spaces for the 30,000-square-foot store, all of them nominally free to use.

“The amount of parking spaces we’ll have at this store with these additional spots is in line with the amount of parking that we offer at our other locations,” Irving said.







Parking at New Seasons on Williams

New Seasons occupies a one-story building on NE Fremont between Williams and Vancouver.
parking at new seasons

Across from the entrace of New Seasons are the new Cook Street Apartments — and a banner announcing the new parking spaces.

That’s an impressive amount of bike parking for a grocery store anywhere, and Portland-based New Seasons is better than most U.S. grocers in avoiding excess amounts of auto parking. Also, it’s likely that if New Seasons hadn’t shelled out for the overflow parking space, it would have faced a political pressure from its neighbors. People would simply park cars on nearby streets, as many do for Zupan’s Market on Southeast Belmont (about 30 on-site auto parking spaces, shared with the apartments upstairs) or Trader Joe’s on Northwest Glisan (about 40 on-site auto parking spaces).

The only way New Seasons could avoid building its parking costs into the price of its groceries would be to charge people for parking — that’d discourage more people from driving there unless they really needed to. But paid parking isn’t really an option for New Seasons, because the City of Portland offers free parking on all the surrounding streets; even more people would spill into the surrounding area.

Zupan’s and Trader Joe’s are proof that the grocery business doesn’t collapse if customers have to walk a little ways to a car trunk. But when it comes to charging for car parking, grocery stores’ hands have been tied by a city that refuses to charge for use of public space along its curbs. Every other outcome — including a few unnecessary cents on every grocery bill — flows from there.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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Street Roots survey turns up differing priorities in mayor’s race

Street Roots survey turns up differing priorities in mayor’s race

Portland Mayor Debate-20.jpg

Mayoral candidates Ted Wheeler, left, and Bim Ditson.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Street Roots, Portland’s first-rate paper about homelessness and housing issues, sometimes asks questions about the closely related subject of transportation.

A questionnaire distributed to the mayoral candidates and published last week includes a quick window into the ways different candidates think about mobility issues.

The question:

Please place the following items in order of priority as mayor.

• Increase parking
• Bike infrastructure
• Low­ or no-fare public transit

Here’s what they said:

Jules Bailey

1. Low- or no-fare public transit
2. Bike infrastructure
3. Increase parking

Patty Burkett

1. Low- or no-fare public transit
2. Bike infrastructure
3. Increase parking

Sean Davis

1. Low- or no-fare public transit
2. Bike lanes
3. Increase parking







Bim Ditson

1. Bike infrastructure
2. Low- or no-fare public transit
3. Increase parking

Deborah Harris

1. Low- or no-fare public transit
2. Increase parking
3. Bike infrastructure

Sarah Iannarone

1. Low- or no-fare public transit
2. Bike infrastructure
3. Make downtown a car-free zone

David Schor

1. Low- or no-fare public transit
2. Bike infrastructure
3. Increase parking

Jessie Sponberg

1. Low- or no-fare public transit
2. Bike infrastructure
3. Increase parking

Ted Wheeler

1. Low- or no-fare public transit
2. Bike infrastructure
3. Increase parking

So, to recap:

• Only one candidate, Ditson, put bike infrastructure above cheap transit.
• Only one candidate, Harris, put bike infrastructure below more auto parking.
• Only one candidate, Iannarone, decided that she was so strongly against increasing auto parking that she would refuse to put it on her list at all.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today. .

The post Street Roots survey turns up differing priorities in mayor’s race appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Average apartment building costs fell sharply during no-parking apartment boom

Average apartment building costs fell sharply during no-parking apartment boom

housing+construction+ankeny

Southeast Ankeny Street.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

In 2013, when the Portland City Council began requiring most new apartment buildings of 30 or more units to include on-site parking garages, housing watchdogs warned that this would drive up the prices of newly built apartments.

Because the city still lets anyone park for free on public streets, they predicted, landlords wouldn’t be able to charge car owners for the actual cost of building parking spaces, which can come to $100 to $200 per month. So the cost of the garages would be built into the price of every new bedroom instead, further skewing new construction toward luxury units.

Three years later, rough data suggests that this could be exactly what happened.

To be sure, this would be only one factor in many that have driven up Portland housing costs. Rents have been rising faster among old units than new ones. But as the city council nears what looks like a tight vote on whether to impose similar mandatory-parking rules in Northwest Portland, affordable-density advocates warn that the story could repeat itself.

Portland affordability advocate Brian Cefola got in touch with us last month to share the numbers he’d crunched using local building permit data published by the U.S. Census.

It turned out, Cefola discovered, that the average cost of building a home in a Portland multi-family building dropped 24 percent between 2011, when Portland’s first wave of no-parking apartments began to open, and 2013, when the new city rule took effect.

At that point, the average price returned to its previous levels.

parking costs

Buildings with 5+ units only. Data source: Census, via Brian Cefola. Chart: BikePortland.

The housing boom and collapse surely play a role in this data, though the exact role isn’t obvious. The international recession and subsequent job collapse began in late 2008; job losses peaked in January 2009. By 2010 — before the price drop Cefola identified — Portland’s economy had become relatively stronger than the national economy, and migration to Portland was accelerating further.

In an effort to correct for changes in labor and other construction costs, Cefola (an insurance analyst in his day job) also crunched the numbers further. Using the cost of building homes in small buildings (one to four units), he created an index of what you’d “expect” units in large buildings to cost if the rules for large buildings hadn’t changed.

That adjusted measure revealed a large, brief spike in per-unit construction costs in 2008, when the recession hit.

Something else it revealed: during the 2011-2013 no-parking boom, the average new Portland apartment cost 17 percent less to build than would have been “expected.” Then it returned to normal.

construction index

Data too noisy to draw firm conclusions from, experts agree

Even local experts who oppose parking minimums cautioned that Cefola’s numbers aren’t precise enough to draw solid conclusions from.

“I think it’s really, really hard to draw any strong inferences about the role of parking requirements on building costs based on such aggregate data,” said Joe Cortright, a Portland-based economist who often writes for City Observatory about the unintended costs of overbuilding parking. “The average per unit costs are highly sensitive to what we call composition effects: sometimes developers build expensive stuff in the Pearl (larger units, nicer finishes) and sometimes its spartan studios. So the per unit cost can fluctuate depending on the mix (composition) of the units being built in any particular year. I think that’s clearly what’s going on in 2008–where you see a big spike in the average cost per unit. When the market went south, the only thing that was moving forward, apparently, was pretty high end stuff.”

“This is, alas, only circumstantial evidence,” Cortright wrote.

empty lower garage

Linden at SE 12th and Burnside tries to recoup the costs of its on-site garage by charging tenants for parking, but street parking is free.

Chris Smith, a Northwest Portland resident who this month led a successful vote by the Planning and Sustainability Commission against new parking minimums, agreed.

“I would guess that a variety of construction cost factors rising would make it hard to point to parking specifically as a cost driver in the data set we have,” he said.






Cefola doesn’t argue otherwise.

“It’s an indication, and I think indications can be wrong,” he said.

But Cefola, who serves as president of the Grant Park Neighborhood Association in his spare time, said the data lines up with logic.

“Many people warned that it would have an impact on affordability and the kind of construction that would be put up,” Cefola said. “It added this fixed cost per unit. I think people, myself included, warned that it would incentivize larger units, higher-end units.”

A rendering of the proposed Overlook Park Apartments. After the city’s parking requirements took effect, it added an extra story, 17-20 auto parking spaces and higher rents.
(Image: TVA Architects)

There might be no better test case in the city than a project (still unfinished) called Overlook Park Apartments. That project was designed with no parking before the code change, then redesigned with parking after the code change.

The second plan for the building had 17 parking spaces, fewer housing units and higher target rents.

Cefola said he thinks his circumstantial evidence is enough reason for professionals at the city to dig deeper.

“I think there’s this question out there that the city really ought to be answering,” Cefola said. “Given the fact that they say there’s a state of emergency on housing, how come they haven’t made any attempt to assess the parking policy they put in four years ago?”

Interested in parking reform? Come to BikePortland’s wonk night Tuesday to help smarter parking rules build a better low-car city.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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The post Average apartment building costs fell sharply during no-parking apartment boom appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Let’s talk about auto parking: Join us at Wonk Night next Tuesday (3/29)

Let’s talk about auto parking: Join us at Wonk Night next Tuesday (3/29)

For the love of parking lots-1

It’s truly amazing what we sacrifice “for the love of cars” as this advertising mural in downtown Portland says.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Auto parking is in a major state of flux right now. Our city is in the middle of major reform to its parking policies with an eye toward weening people off free and abundant storage of their motor vehicles, while at the same time we are still investing millions into huge parking garages in the central city. For people who care about great cities and quality public spaces, the time is now to get educated and engaged about this issue.

That’s why we’re excited to announce our upcoming Wonk Night. Next Tuesday join local experts and advocates for a night of networking and conversations that will unlock your parking policy achievement badge. Here’s what we’ve got lined up so far:





— We’ll get you updated on the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation’s latest policies, projects and plans (and tell you how you can impact them).

— You’ll hear from citizen activist and Portland Planning Commissioner Chris Smith about his recent work to convince the city to not create parking minimums in northwest.

— We’ll introduce you to the people behind the Portland Shoupistas, a group that’s pushing to make sure PBOT’s adopts the most progressive parking policies possible.

— We’ll hear from urbanist/economist Joe Cortright who just published an illuminating article on parking in City Observatory.

— You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how local company (and event sponsor) Lancaster Engineering is revolutionizing parking analysis for cities around the country.

And of course like always we’ll let everyone who shows up share their questions and insights, all while snacking on great bites and drinks from our sponsors Widmer Brothers Brewing and Green Zebra Grocery.

It happens next Tuesday at Lancaster Engineering HQ, 321 SW 4th Ave, 4th Floor. Doors open at 6:00 and we’ll get things started at 6:30. Here’s the event page and it’s on Facebook too. Hope to see you there!

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland can’t survive without subscribers. It’s just $10 per month and you can sign up in a few minutes.

The post Let’s talk about auto parking: Join us at Wonk Night next Tuesday (3/29) appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Guest opinion: To make paradise, stop putting up parking lots

Guest opinion: To make paradise, stop putting up parking lots

kielparkinglead

The planned parking garage and hotel are shown in green. All the whited-out areas are spaces where there is an existing above-ground parking lot. This does not include on-street parking or below-ground parking.
(Image: Google)

This is a guest post by Kiel Johnson, a resident of the Lloyd District who operates the Go By Bike shop and valet.

The Portland Development Commission’s startling new approach of publicly financing massive parking garages to pay their future operating costs should concern any citizen who does not want Detroit-style bankrupt public spaces.

As our city talks about addressing our homelessness crisis, we are spending $26 million to make sure affluent out-of-town convention goers do not have to walk one or two blocks.

The PDC’s new quest for revenue means that this powerful public planning organization will have a vested interest in maintaining and increasing all future auto capacity for many years to come. We must think: in the debate over the next Columbia River Crossing, what side will a PDC funded by parking revenue be on?

As a Lloyd District resident, every year I open my property tax bill and find that some of it is set aside for living in an “urban renewal area.” I have always assumed that this money is going towards making my neighborhood a better place. After reading last week’s article on the $26 million parking lot to be built next to one of our busiest transit hubs, I question whether this is the case. In the upcoming year I will be forced to watch the bulldozers and cement trucks I helped finance, working to build yet another parking garage in a neighborhood of parking garages.

As our city talks about addressing our homelessness crisis, we are spending $26 million to make sure affluent out-of-town convention goers do not have to walk the one or two blocks from any of the many existing parking garages to the new Convention Center Hotel. If they had to walk down these streets they might stop and buy a coffee and spend some money in our neighborhood.

Instead, tourists will drive from the airport to their hotel and then drive out of our neighborhood. For some reason I am paying to incentivize this.There is already plenty of publically funded car parking in the Lloyd District if we are just smart enough to use it.

The most disappointing thing is the lack of imagination, creativity and leadership that went into the idea to build another massive parking lot. When the cement trucks arrive I will think of this list of what else we could have done with $26 million.





For $26 million, you could:

Replace 43 percent of the Portland bicycle infrastructure that had been built as of 2008.

Build 7,878 tiny-house cottages for people without homes.

Caravan Tiny House Hotel

(Photo: H. Grimes)

Retrofit Grant High School, Creston Elementary, Cleveland High School, Chapman High School, Binnsmead Middle School, and Ainsworth Elementary for earthquakes.

Operate 325 bicycle valets for 14 hours a day, five days a week.

Go By Bike shop in South Waterfront-23

(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Recreate the 3rd Avenue Better Block project 5,200 times.

Add about 20,000 more bikes to this summer’s public bike sharing system, making it 20 times larger.

Paint 17,333 intersection murals.

NE 61st & Tillamook

(Photo: Greg Raisman)

Offer 20,710 full-credit terms at Portland Community College for free.

Build 8.6 solar panel projects the same size as the Oregon Convention Center solar project (totaling 55,900 panels).

We don’t give money to government in order to gamble on business ventures that will, if successful, make our community less livable. We give money to government so it can achieve the goals that none of us can achieve alone.

Kiel Johnson, Mr. Bike Train

This $26 million suggests that the PDC has lost sight of the goals Portland stands for. It’s up to our elected leaders to either get them in line, or cut off their supply of public money forever.

— Kiel Johnson is the proprieter of Go By Bike which is a BikePortland business supporter.

Note: This story was originally published with a lead graphic that showed a footprint for the new parking garage that did not accurately reflect its actual size. We’ve updated the graphic and regret any confusion. – Jonathan.



The post Guest opinion: To make paradise, stop putting up parking lots appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Why does Multnomah County allow auto parking on the Morrison Bridge bike path?

Why does Multnomah County allow auto parking on the Morrison Bridge bike path?

bridgeparkinglead

Not a parking spot. Or is it?
(Photo: Jason J.)

Have you ever noticed a car parked on the Morrison Bridge bicycling and walking path?

As one of Portland’s precious few pieces of physically protected, non-motorized travel space it sure seems like a bad place to park. It would be one thing if this was a rogue private citizen, but in this case the cars belong to Multnomah County employees.

We first heard about this phenomenon last October from a reader named Jason J. Here’s an excerpt from his email:

“This is the third time in the past month that there have been cars parked on the path. The first 2 times, the cars weren’t marked and it looked like there was some work being done in the control towers, but this time, no one was around, just the car in the path. I don’t see county vehicles parking in car lanes to access the control booths on this or any other bridges, so I wonder why they think it is acceptable to park on a sidewalk/bike path here.”

Then we heard about the issue again on Monday afternoon via @sharrowPDX on Twitter:

So what’s the deal?

County spokesman Mike Pullen says the cars belong to bridge operators and electricians who need to work in the tower. Pullen confirmed that current policy allows these staff members to drive to the tower and park. “We ask them to not block the path for users. We don’t want a vehicle parked there for an extended period,” Pullen said in an initial email.





We sent Pullen the image in our lead photo at the top of this story. He said the staffer was doing as advised and that the car was parked “so that the path could still be used.”

Pullen then did a bit more digging and found out that the reason county employees park on the path has to do with security concerns. Here’s more from one of his emails:

“For the security of employees working the night shift, the Morrison Bridge operator parks a vehicle by the bridge tower, on the outside edge of the path. Before this practice, the operator parked their vehicle off the bridge nearby. But we had repeated incidents of car break-ins.”

Pullen added that the Morrison bridge operator used to set out traffic cones and/or barricades around the parked car, but stopped doing that after those items were thrown into the river by passersby.

Pullen and the county acknowledge that parking a car on the bridge path is not ideal. To lessen the confusion and impact, he says they plan on marking the space and having employees drive “the smallest car possible.”

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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The post Why does Multnomah County allow auto parking on the Morrison Bridge bike path? appeared first on BikePortland.org.