Portland’s parking policies are bad for rent and bad for business. Let’s fix them.
PICOC is a coalition of business and community leaders who believe Portland can do better. We call on City Council to eliminate parking minimums that drive up the cost of housing, and instead enact policies that encourage alternative transportation and efficient use of existing parking.
Portland’s parking policies are failing. Our free on-street parking has led to streets that are increasingly crowded with cars, while building additional off-street parking spaces has undermined our goals of creating an efficient, low-carbon city. Worse, these policies have contributed significantly to our growing affordability crisis and have hurt our local businesses. Imagine that instead of spending money on free and subsidized parking, we spent it on providing affordable housing and frequent transit service. Imagine that instead of giving residents free parking, we gave them cheaper rent and a free bus pass. We can do better.
Requiring parking in residential developments contributes significantly to the rising cost of housing. According to a recent White House report, “parking requirements generally impose an undue burden on housing development, particularly for transit-oriented or affordable housing.” This is because parking spaces are worth far less than living spaces, especially when off-street parking is available nearby for free. Parking minimums are distorting the market by requiring developers to build parking at a loss that is passed directly on to renters. A study in Seattle found that renters on average pay an additional $246 per month to subsidize the cost of parking — whether they own a car or not. Instead of subsidizing off-street parking, we should be subsidizing affordable housing.
Our parking policy also hurts Portland businesses. Businesses thrive when they are accessible on foot, by bike, and by transit. And when employees and customers do need to drive, it’s important they can quickly find a spot to park. Our parking policies have filled our streets with parked cars, impeding traffic, endangering people biking and walking, and making it all but impossible to find a parking space. This is because Portlanders can keep their car (and their second or third cars) on the street all day, for free. Instead of building ever more spaces and driving up the cost of housing, let’s manage our existing parking supply more efficiently. Let’s subsidize efficient transportation options instead of parking spaces — and make sure parking is easy to find for those who need it.
On November 17th, City Council will consider two amendments to our 2035 comprehensive plan. Amendment 34 would eliminate parking minimums for mixed use neighborhoods near transit, while amendment 51 would require developers to use transportation management policies to manage parking and ensure fewer residents and visitors are traveling by car. PICOC and the following businesses call on our City Commissioners to pass these amendments.
General Manager, Know Thy Food Cooperative
Owner, Beacon Sound
CEO, Sphaea Solutions
Principal, Hacker Architects
Co-owner, Microcosm Publishing
Principal, Urban Development + Partners
President, Read the Docs
Garlynn Glen Woodsong
President, Woodsong Property Renovation Partners
Jeffrey Todd Fahrner
Partner, Clever Cycles
Director, KLiK Concepts
President, Pedaltown Media Inc.
Principal, Fat Pencil Studio
CEO, Crowd Supply
Owner, Go By Bike
Owner, Old Gilbert Road Tavern
Principal, Brink Communications
Founder & CEO, Green Zebra Grocery
Principal, Encountering Tech
Michael Drew Tyson
Co-founder, Chefs Week PDX
CEO, Community Cycling Center
Owner, Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider
Owner, Worn Path
Associate Director, Obility
General Manager, PIE
Principal, Planet Argon
Robert Alan Ping
Executive Director, Walkable and Livable Communities Institute
Founding Owner, Arleta Library Cafe
Founder, Ziba Design
Co-owner, Mirador Kitchen & Home
Tom Bauer (Individual)
Associate Principal, Bora Architects
Owner, Handsome Pizza
CEO, Knock Software
Owner, Truck Trike