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Commission approves new parking rules


The Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission heard testimony last month that proposed new parking requirements for new multi-family development were unnecessary and contrary to city goals, and that they did not go far enough to solve urgent problems. After hearing two and a half hours of such testimony, the Commission approved the recommendations of staff with minor tweaks. The matter will now go to the Portland City Council for action.

The proposed changes would require developers to provide .25 off-site parking spaces in developments of 41 residential units or more. The requirements would apply in the RX (a high density multi-dwelling zone which allows the highest density of dwelling units of the residential zones) and most commercial zones, where there are currently no requirements for such parking.

The new rules would continue to exempt multi-family development from parking requirements when it is within 500 feet of frequent transit service, but it would redefine “frequent” to mean service every 15 minutes or less, rather than 20 at present, and it would exclude areas that once had such service but no longer do.

Other changes would allow developers to provide the required parking on new or existing lots up to 500 feet from the residences (the distance was increased from 300 feet by commission member Chris Smith), and permit developers to reduce the amount of required parking in exchange for adding additional bike parking or space for a car sharing company.

Although much of the east side has been impacted by such projects, especially inner southeast's Division Street, Mid-county has seen little of it. Planner Joe Zehnder suggested that this is due in part to the area's lack of transit service. “It's a judgment of the market,” he told the Commission.

BPS Commission member Gary Oxman said, “Two parent families with a couple of kids are much less able to use bikes than young singles. Are we moving families to areas with more parking?”

Commission member Karen Fischer Gray echoed, “Does parking dictate where people live?”

“That's a good question,” Zehnder replied. “Depending on the part of town, the price of housing varies. The Comprehensive Plan says that a significant portion of new growth will be in multi-family buildings.” He said there are many such buildings providing off-street parking and said, “The choice is out there."
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