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Planning and Sustainability

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Project overview

The Northwest Plan District (NWPD) area is experiencing significant development activity. But parking inventory for both on-street and off-street spaces continues to be very constrained.

This is a longstanding issue. Parking demand has not waned since the NWPD was adopted in 2003, even as the growth of nearby commercial services, expansion of bike facilities and shared vehicle programs have made it easier to not own a car in the district. Stakeholders and community members have worked on the issue for many years and more recently with the City to develop a Northwest Parking Management Plan (NWPMP), adopted in 2013, to address on-street parking management. As part of the NWPMP, new parking meters and an expanded permit parking program will be implemented in 2015.

Citywide, as the economy recovered and a construction boom began in 2012, the availability of on-street parking became an issue for people living near, working in or visiting commercial districts. In response, the City adopted new regulations in 2013 to establish minimum parking requirements for new multifamily development. However, plan districts were exempt from the new rules, so the zoning code amendments did not apply to the NW Plan District.

Two zoning code amendments

The Northwest Parking Update Project seeks to amend two sections of the City’s Zoning Code in order to:

Apply citywide minimum parking requirements to the NW Plan District

The NW Plan District area exhibits the same or greater development pressures and on-street parking shortages that necessitated the citywide changes mentioned above. Consequently, the NWPD neighborhood and business associations have requested removal of the “no minimum parking” standard so the recently adopted citywide minimum parking standards can apply to the plan district area.

This requires a change to Zoning Code Section 33.562.280 – Parking - in order to withdraw the no minimum parking requirements statement and align the minimum parking requirements for residential development over 30 units with current Citywide standards.

Allow more flexibility for shared use of existing parking spaces

The NWPD reflects early thinking and innovation around best use of scarce parking resources. The NWPD zoning code includes provisions that allow accessory parking facilities to be used as commercial parking in limited circumstances. In other words, it allows facilities with excess off-hour parking spaces to rent them to or share them with other users in the area.

This requires changes to Zoning Code Section 33.562.290 - Use of Accessory Parking for Commercial Parking – in order to expand the allowed users and parameters under which the provisions can be utilized.

The scope of this project will be limited to the above noted code provisions.

Additional Background

There are two different types of parking outside the Central City:

  • Commercial parking can serve anyone who opts to pay for that service and is not required or connected to a specific use on or off a commercial site. Commercial parking is not allowed in some zones, including residential and central employment-zoned properties.
  • Accessory parking provides parking for a specific use or uses, often but not necessarily on the same site. A fee may or may not be charged, and it is allowed in all zones.

Process and timeline

The existing Northwest Parking Management Plan (NWPMP) Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC), coordinated by the Portland Bureau of Transportation, will serve as the formal advisory group for the project.

  • Total project: 9 to 12 months, starting in May 2015
  • Months 1 to 4: Project scoping, research/analysis, stakeholder outreach/consultation
  • Months 4 to 7: Code development, discussion draft, public review
  • Months 8 to 12: Proposal to Planning and Sustainability Commission; Recommended Draft to City Council