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On April 10, 2013, City Council voted to adopt Zoning Code amendments for parking minimums, which will apply to some future apartment buildings depending on their location and size. The vote followed a five-and-a-half-hour public hearing at City Council the week before, at which dozens of people testified for and against parking minimums. Amendments proposed by Commissioners Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz were included in the adopted code, which will go into effect in 30 days. Projects that have already received a building permit or that have submitted a complete permit application will not be affected.
Mayor Charlie Hales said the vision of urban planning remains, but must be modified from time to time to address the changing reality.
“We had a vision for main streets and we still do,” Hales said. “This doesn’t mean we’re moving away from our vision; it just means we’re adjusting. And you know what? We likely will have to do this again in the future.”
Highlights of the Code Amendments
The revised regulations will apply to new apartment buildings with more than 30 units that are within 500 feet of a street with frequent transit service or 1,500 feet of a MAX station, and in certain commercial zones. The amount of parking required depends on the size of the building. For example, buildings with 31 to 40 units will have to provide one parking space per five units, while larger buildings will be required to provide more. But developers will be able reduce their parking obligations up to half by providing various amenities, such as spaces for car- or bike-sharing services.
Portland's first Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 1980, includes goals and policies to “... regulate off-street parking to promote good urban form and the vitality of commercial and employment areas.” In the early ’90s, City officials rewrote the Zoning Code and included three new commercial zones to promote main street storefront character with mixed use/residential development.
Today, historically low vacancy rates, especially in inner Portland, have resulted in a boom of apartment construction, many without onsite parking. In response to community concerns about potential parking impacts, the City Council directed the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to research the issue and develop Zoning Code amendments that require some parking for larger multi-unit buildings.
For more information about the research and study reports or to read the FAQ, visit the project web page.