What Happens When You Build Housing With No Parking?

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Portland's progressive parking policy has taken a beating recently. Under city code, developers are allowed to build some types of buildings in areas with frequent public transit without any parking. Developers love it (parking is extremely expensive to build), car-free renters love it (because they're not paying the added cost of a parking every month), and pro-density advocates love it, because Portland can build more units on small, urban lots if they don't have to worry about parking spaces.

But a spate of 29 parking-free multi-unit developments permitted in the past 18 months has neighbors worried that all those "green" apartments will just lead to car-owning residents parking on neighborhood streets. Responding to those complaints, the city published the results of a big parking study last week that dug into what has happened around eight of the new buildings that had fewer parking spots than units.

The big takeaway: There is still room to park around the parking-free buildings. Even at peak capacity, a two-block radius around the new buildings still had plenty of spaces. Here's the city's chart:

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But the second finding: Most of the people living in low-or-no-parking buildings still own cars. According to the study, 72 percent of people in the buildings still own a car and the average number of cars per unit varies from .5 at NE Portland's Shaver Green to 1.2 at the Andria on SE 42nd and Belmont. That's roughly the same as the rest of Portland, since 73 percent of us own cars. But, the people who live in the new buildings are also more likely than the average Portlander to commute to work by bike, walking or transit: only 36 percent of residents drive a vehicle alone to work. That low-car-use behavior is long-term for goals like Portland Climate Action Plan.

If you care about these kinds of issues, there is a big public meeting about Portland parking policy tomorrow at 1900 SW 4th Avenue, Room 2500. Sadly, it's right in the middle of the day, from 1:30-3:30pm.

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