May 31, 2006
Parking in Neighborhood Business Districts
I seem to have gotten myself prominently quoted in yesterday's Tribune on parking in NW Portland.
In the same issue, there is an article on Sam Adams' efforts to get paid parking in more business districts (more info on Sam's blog).
Believe it or not, my neighborhood is actually an argument in favor of Sam's approach.
While ultimately the insistence of the business association (one developer in particular) to attach off-street parking structures tanked any kind of consensus, the neighborhood had actually gotten behind the idea of paid parking before that point.
The key benefits of paid parking, particularly in near-in neighborhoods are:
- Remove park-and-hide commuters who drive into the inner city, park for free, then hop on transit to complete their trip downtown, avoiding downtown parking rates.
- Encourage turnover of parking spaces in front of retail shops and restaurants.
- Funnel meter revenue back into improvements in the neighborhood.
So I think Sam has it right, but I wish he could convince his Council colleagues to deal with the screwed-up stalemate in my neighborhood.
May 31, 2006 8:37 AM
Frank Dufay Says:
The key benefits of paid parking, particularly in near-in neighborhoods are: Remove park-and-hide commuters who drive into the inner city, park for free, then hop on transit to complete their trip downtown, avoiding downtown parking rates.
That's a good benefit, Chris, --we have that problem in close-in southeast-- but it gets more complicated. Our close-in SE neighborhood saw our problem exacerbated when the permit system was put in place in the Central Eastside Industrial District. Also, permits are also given to businesses with commuting employees, aren't they? Doesn't this ENCOURAGE commuter parking?
There isn't a problem with "turnover" on SE Hawthorne with the short-term parking restrictions. And we've been able, so far, to not be overwhelmed with commuters (I'm at SE 23rd, two blocks in from Hawthorne.) Will the "free" parking lots at Fred Meyer, at 39th, have to change? Who'll be policing this? At what additional cost? And will this make it harder to park your own car in the street for days at a time without moving it, with the enhanced parking enforcement?
NW has serious parking issues, but as has been pointed out, not unresolvable ones. The issues are simply not as apparent to me in SE, where I've lived the last eigteen years. And, more to the point, we're allowing Transit Oriented Development to go in without requiring parking (and giving reduced System development Charges to boot)...but then we're going to sell (or give) permits to the new residents of the 28 condo units, giving them priority over local businesses (as in the Clinton St business district)?
I'm not sure what problem we're solving here? And wonder if maybe we'll be making a few new ones?
May 31, 2006 8:44 AM
Chris Smith Says:
Frank, there's no question that there are a complex set of tradeoffs, and I don't recommend a blanket solution. Each neighborhood needs to evaluate the problem and the potential tools.
The employee permit issue is a particularly interesting one. In many neighborhoods (Goose, Central Eastside) employee permits are only issued for 50% of the employee headcount. In NW, Dick Singer was insisting on permits for 100% of employees, something I don't think Council would have given him if we had gotten that far (but then I didn't think they'd vote for 8 structures, either).
May 31, 2006 11:56 AM
Hmm, I still like the idea of only allowing garages on 23rd in exchange to closing the street to car traffic completely, and charging for parking in the garages. And then putting in an extension of the streetcar line that runs from one end of the street to the other and back to get people from the garages to the shops (not like walking from one end to the other is so hard, but....)
I guess gas prices aren't quite high enough to make that politically possible yet, though, huh? Still, it sure would make a great car-free street!
May 31, 2006 12:32 PM
rex Burkholder Says:
This is a complex issue. Shoup has written a bible length book on the High Cost of Free Parking (http://www.planning.org/bookservice/highcost.htm) that details the reasons and strategies for charging for ON-STREET PARKING. Commissioner Adams and I attended his workshop on this and were both convinced of the equity and transportation benefits of charging for on street parking in commercial districts. I will be pushing for this as part of Metro's New Look process (Community forum is set for June 23rd 06032_nl_forumcard_for_print.pdf
Seattle is proposing taxing OFF STREET PARKING in part to pay for maintenance of existing system of roads. http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/issues/streets/
Raising the cost of parking is the most effective means to both recover the true cost of this service from the users of that service and to encourage behavior change. Clarke Derry of SightLine institute claims a $1 a day parking charge is equivalent to $1.80 per gallon increase in the price of gas for the average commuter.
May 31, 2006 1:15 PM
Chris Smith Says:
I need to point out that parking structures are in fact allowed ON NW 23rd in the CS zoned areas. The controversy is around a parking structure just off NW 23rd infringing on the residential zoning. Council allowed a 'parking overlay' on select residential lots for this purpose as part of the the 2003 NW District Plan. This is what ticks off the neighborhood.
In fact, there was a surface parking at 23rd and Flanders in the CS zone that could have been developed into a structure with 100+ parking spaces. Developer Richard Singer, who owned the lot, built a Williams-Sonoma instead. He is the same developer who wants to build the garage in question.
So basically Dick has declared that the highest and best use of land in the neighborhood is retail, parking comes second and residential is an afterthought.
The Plaid Panty site on NW 23rd would be another great site for a parking structure (and the lot is large enough that you could have a retail facade with the structure behind), but hey, let's tear down a house instead!
No, I'm not bitter :-)
May 31, 2006 4:52 PM
the equity and transportation benefits of charging for on street parking in commercial districts. I will be pushing for this as part of Metro's New Look process...
Can we have a description of "commercial districts" then? When we have well-integrated neighborhoods, as we do in much of southeast where the commercial sector is part of the fabric of the neighborhood, and residences not only abut but are in commercial districts, how do we avoid driving those looking for "free" parking into our neighborhoods? And for those who reside in "commercial districts"...how do we charge them, versus charging abutting neighbors? Especially as we're championing Transit-Oriented Development on our main streets?
May 31, 2006 7:09 PM
Ross Williams Says:
I am with you on this one. The goal is to create neighborhoods and communities that are good places to live, work and do business. Northwest Portland is a destination neighborhood - many of the businesses that generate the most traffic and parking there do not have the local neighborhood residents as their primary customers. That is far less true in Southeast Portland or most other neighborhoods where businesses that rely on on-street parking often are serving the people who live there. That is true even on Hawthorne or Belmont or Mississippi or Albina ... the destinatation neighborhoods in most of Portland still have a good mix of local services that need on-street parking for the economics to work of services within walking distance of neighborhoods.
John Russell tried to get the Coalition for a Livable Future to take on the idea of a tax on parking to replace the business tax. That idea has some merit, although it needs to be carefully vetted. But even then there are questions as to whether this benefits the downtown business community, but makes outer southeast businesses less competitive. Metering on-street parking has some of those same questions.
June 1, 2006 12:44 AM
I'm still of the mindset that ALL parking should be charged for (land isn't free, and cement covered land sure isn't!!). I think it's a great idea to meter the area! I'm even moving to 20th and I'm all about charging for on street, off street or whatever. The only parking that shouldn't be charged for is the parking on someone's property. It's THEIR property. But no one is proposing that. :) -> Yet.
As for the comment from "Garlynn Says: Hmm, I still like the idea of only allowing garages on 23rd in exchange to closing the street to car traffic completely, and charging for parking in the garages. And then putting in an extension of the streetcar line that runs from one end of the street to the other and back to get people from the garages to the shops (not like walking from one end to the other is so hard, but....)"
Ditto. I still never understood why the streetcar wasn't included for more of 23rd. It jumps onto the street, makes one stop, and immediately leaves. :( Not kewl. I'm sure though that it would gentrify the area even more if it ran the length. Many seem to not like the notion of Gentrification (even though so many work so hard for what is the functional result), I on the other hand am all for it.
June 1, 2006 3:58 AM
I'll throw in my vote for a pedestrian 23rd!
There would certainly have to be some major parking tho. Does anybody know how many spaces would need to be generated (in garages) in order to replace all the on street parking?
June 1, 2006 10:52 AM
John Mermin Says:
The thing that really gets me about that Tribune article is the sidebar with the quotes from the two business owners. The toy store owner says that she's against parking meters because "This is a neighborhood. I associate meters with downtown." However, she goes on to say that she is a supporter of bulding a new parking garage (which would require demolishing two buildings).
So basically she's saying that:
Replacing two buildings with a potential eyesore (parking garage) fits in the neighborhood and is less "downtown-like" than parking meters???
Does anyone else see the irony in this perspective? It sounds like some twisted logic to me.
June 1, 2006 2:51 PM
It has been suggested up here in dense neighborhoods like Capitol Hill and it's environs, to reduce parking requirements for new residential buildings, and with Pay-To-Park stations going up, most parking meters are gone. With Capitol Hill bracketed by a multitude of King County Metro bus routes(trackless trolleys rule on the hill, with the 10, 43, and 49, plus a few diesel routes, and planning for another East-West route, possibly a trackless trolley due to steep grades), it could work. The debate over on-street parking will always be around.
June 1, 2006 10:12 PM
Chris Smith Says:
John, the irony is that structured parking and metering go hand-in-hand. The experts tell you that a (paid) parking structure cannot pay off while the on-street environment is free. Folks will just keep driving around until they find a free space.
The speculation is that Singer is building his structure on the assumption that the neighborhood will eventually go for paid parking. I think the neighborhood's reaction is likely to be to resist paid parking if it profits Singer. A perfect stalemate.