Too Much Parking in Beaverton?

The Daily Journal of Commerce reports on a study that found an excess of parking in downtown Beaverton. This creates an opportunity for the Beaverton City Council to lower parking requirements for development, helping spur higher density redevelopment.

Pretty soon Beaverton could have a real downtown!

23 responses to “Too Much Parking in Beaverton?”

  1. what is a “real” downtown? I sure hope it’s not condo’s and the opportunity to by Addidas shelltops for $135.

  2. “Real” downtown, according to planners, is an area full of tax subsidized housing and small shops, rail transit, wide concrete eco sidewalks, concrete parks with no children or pets allowed, and of course, tax subsidized public “art.”

  3. concrete parks with no children or pets allowed

    Care to elaborate on that one? Perhaps there are a few specific cases (Pioneer courthouse square is mostly impervious surfaces, for example), but nearly all parks I’ve seen allow on-leash pets and off-leash children. :-)

    I walked past Jamison Square park in the Pearl District a few days ago and there were literally hundreds of people there with at least 50 children playing in the fountain and running around on the grass. Nearby Tanner Springs park was far more tranquil (by design) and people there were walking their dogs and a woman with a stroller was walking her toddler along the stream-lined trail.

    – Bob R.

  4. Well the alternative isn’t exactly desirable. Last time I was at a target or walmart parking lot I didn’t notice too many people enjoying the acres of asphalt.

  5. When I used to live in Beaverton, it was common for people’s kids to play in the streets – even from houses that backed up against huge parks. The parks would be empty and the streets would be full of kids playing.

    When I drove through one time I stopped and asked why their kids play in the street as opposed to the park that connects with their back yard, and the parents responded that it was easier to watch them in the front of the house…

    But like other posters have commented – we frequently take our children to the parks downtown, and there are always many other kids. Lots of kids, and lots of pets…

    I often wonder if all of the people who like to criticize downtown ever actually come downtown…

    I know people who are scared of anywhere with buildings taller than three stories…

  6. Maybe the problem is that downtown Beaverton is not a desirable place to be for business or to live.

    It also doesn’t help that the transit-oriented development, the Round at Beaverton Central, has yet to fully develop/utilize, and also has a large parking lot that seems to be quite busy despite the lack of anything there; or the lack of people in or around the MAX station.

    Of course, Beaverton’s lack of transportation planning (street design) also comes into play here – and is probably the largest problem facing the Beaverton core business district.

  7. Beaverton should consider a parking strategy based on the pricing principles outlined by Professor Donald Shoup, and see what the results would be. If potential shoppers and other business patrons are able to conveniently find parking (albeit at a price of $0.75 or $1.00 per hour), long-term business prospects would be better; shoppers in relatively affluent areas tend to value convenience more than a few quarters). Also, would-be long-term parkers, e.g., employees, would have a much stronger incentive to take advantage of the extensive transit service that converges on downtown Beaverton.

  8. “Also, would-be long-term parkers, e.g., employees, would have a much stronger incentive to take advantage of the extensive transit service that converges on downtown Beaverton.”

    Or they would have a strong incentive to find a job where parking is “free” or paid for by their employer; and/or business owners would have a strong incentive to relocate where smart growth experiments are not conducted on employees and customers.

  9. “There is no such thing as free parking.”

    Thats why I put “free” in quotes.. however, businesses like providing “free” parking to customers because it brings them in. That is why shopping malls and “lifestyle centers” are booming but shopping districts with limited parking [like downtown] need subsidies to survive. It is also why downtown retailers pay big $$ for parking validation.

    Businesses also like it when their employees drive to work or live within walking distance [as opposed to riding the bus or bicycling several miles] because they make it to work on time and owning a car is a sign of responsibility.

  10. “Businesses also like it when their employees drive to work or live within walking distance [as opposed to riding the bus or bicycling several miles] because they make it to work on time and owning a car is a sign of responsibility.”

    And your basis for this statement is…? I can only guess that it is to try and provoke- but what’s the point?

    You might be surprised to learn that many businesses incent their employees not to drive- and see this as a sign of both economic and environmental responsibility.

    I think that is also a fair statement that both downtown shopping districts and shopping malls receive subsidies- just in different forms. Why only focus on the one you seem not to like?

  11. If one were to do the research…Actually a lot of employers like their employees to drive to work…so they can pass some of their operating costs back onto their employees…so they can locate on cheaper land (away from transit and downtowns), expect their employees to use their personal cars for work trips (avoiding fleet costs, insurance, parking, depreciation), most employees where I work do not bother to seek reimbursement (paperwork, time, low reimbursement rate, etc.), and then many spouses who are the secondary breadwinner their salary typically goes to support the costs of replacing their labour at home and the costs of a 2 car household.

  12. Hawthorn – you should peruse some of the job postings… many of them do state a requirement that you own a car. Others simply ask during the interview if you have a car, and I have definitely been frowned upon for taking public transit – for jobs in the burbs, anyway.

    I used to work out on 182 and Division, and on a bad day it took me almost 2 hours to get from PSU to my work. One directions. And it’s not that far between the two points!

  13. I’ve seen a lot of jobs that require a good driving record, but the only jobs that I’ve seen that actually require a car are things like pizza delivery, (although I haven’t looked at those kind of jobs in a long time, maybe they’ve wised up and realized that bicycles are faster for most trips.)

  14. Actually I believe that TriMet themselves requires a bus operator (the largest population of TriMet employees) to be able to provide their own transportation to/from work, for the express reason that TriMet themselves cannot or does not offer transportation to all duty points and/or on-duty times.

    Kinda ironic, don’t you think? I guess they could carpool together, but you still need to have your own transportation as a backup should the driver be sick/day off/leave/etc.

    Back to Beaverton, what is the rationale for charging for parking? The vast amount of parking in Beaverton isn’t public (i.e. Beaverton Town Square, Fred Meyer, Cedar Hills Crossing, Tektronix, Nike, Washington Square – you can’t force a private entity to charge its customers to pay for a service it feels it should provide for “free” (in other words, building into the cost of the business). Otherwise every restaurant with a drive-through would have five sets of prices – whether they eat in or out, whether they used the drive-through or the counter, and whether they used the parking lot or not.

    Same with a bank – do you slap an ATM surcharge on those that use the drive-up ATM, but not the walk-up ATM? Then the banks would charge those who walk up to the teller, and charge higher for the service at the desk.

    If you don’t like “subsidizing” drivers, then don’t do business with companies that own and operate parking lots. It’s not hard to find them – you probably have to walk through the parking lot to get to the door. Nor can you patronize downtown Portland businesses, because they help subsidize (most by choice) the downtown parking garages. Are we going to start a network of “parking-free business”, a group of businesses solely dedicated towards pedestrian, bike and transit oriented businesses that do not support roadway based transit?

    (By the way, how will you get your deliveries?)

  15. We’re not talking about the Nike or Tektronix parking lots (which aren’t in Beaverton, the legislature made sure they could not be annexed). We’re talking about downtown Beaverton.

    And we’re talking about lowering the requirement on development to provide parking. This is RELAXING a mandate, not providing a new mandate.

  16. From the article:

    “Beaverton building codes require four parking stalls for every 1,000 square feet of building space, but city residents and businesses only use half of that, according to a survey of 3,107 parking spaces conducted over nine hours in the Old Town section of Beaverton.”

    Apparently Beaverton, like many suburbs, has used regulation to create a market for parking that is overbuilt by 100%. Its not hard to see why businesses provide parking for “free”. How would you charge for it?

    The result is that there is a lot of very valuable real estate, with expensive public services, that could be developed to a much higher purpose. If they can figure out ways to share parking instead of having every business provide its own, they are going to have a much better chance of developing a thriving business center.

    That’s how shopping centers work too. They don’t have spaces for each business.

  17. From the top of page, linked article:

    “Beaverton building codes require four parking stalls for every 1,000 square feet of building space, but city residents and businesses only use half of that, according to a survey of 3,107 parking spaces conducted over nine hours in the Old Town section of Beaverton.”

    “…but city residents and businesses only use half of that,… .” Have they forgotten customers? To shop Beaverton, you’ve got to drive. If you drive, except for drive-thru’s you’ve got to park your car to get out and shop. At least that’s the conclusion I’ll bet most people coming to Beaverton would come to.

    It’s substantial test of endurance and wits to cross Canyon Rd from Beaverton Transit Center to go to Beaverton’s Old Town, Beaverton Town Square or the Beaverton Library with it’s Saturday Farmer’s Market on foot or by bike. Many people happily willing to walk about Downtown Portland would not put up with that. If and when they come at all, they’ll drive. Fix this ASAP and the need for so much parking will disappear.

    A real fix is likely to represent major technical problems. Canyon, Beav Hillsdale Hwy and Cedar Hills Blvd are major obstacles to travel between Beaverton retail activity points and the library, for non-car travelers.

    Still, the situation could be made lots better if some kind of clearly defined pedestrian/bicycle right-of-way were created between those points.

    For starters, you could cut a route from the BTC, south across Canyon into the parking lot of Beav Town Sq, curving west past Trader Joes, Izzy’s, Hooters. Cross a street into a currently huge empty lot adjoining the RR tracks. Now it’s only about 500′ to Beaverton Old Town.

    Make it generously wide enough for lanes of pedestrians and bicyclists…skaters and cyclists can share…in both directions and the start of a very successful, broader plan might be set in motion.

  18. WS –

    I agree entirely. Getting from the Beaverton Transit Center and the Round to the rest of Beaverton on foot is difficult and unpleasant. Bike is slightly better from the Round. But, like most of the suburban centers, there is a lot of work to be done in making it easier for people to park (or use transit) and walk instead of driving from store to store. And getting more people out of their cars would do a lot for the congestion leading to 217.

    But it appears the current amount of parking required by regulations exceeds even the demand created by the auto centric development.

  19. Ross, I think there’s either something about that article, the study, or the conclusions drawn from it by Beaverton City Council members that’s missing or wrong. I’ll tell you what…I really don’t see a lot of empty parking spaces around Beaverton. Cedar Hills Crossing parking lots? Easily jam packed on the weekends. Beav Town Sq has pretty good occupancy too. Beav Library lots and surrounding street parking? Pretty well filled.

    There are walkers and cyclists out here. I just believe there’d be far more of that happening if city leaders took the initiative to determine where it stands regarding mode of transportation between key points of downtown. Right now, this seems to be more than not, an afterthought. Take another look at the article and note the following excerpt:

    “Take a walk from The Round to the Beaverton library,” Mark San Soucie, a Beaverton Planning Commission member, told City Council. “It’s kind of scruffy right now.”

    That’s a planning commission member, not a city council member making that observation. City Council’s primary concern seems to be preoccupied with all that valuable real estate being eaten up by parking. Two more excerpts:

    “We cannot allow parking to continue at the rate it’s currently being built,” Rick Williams, who partnered on the study with engineering consultancy Parametrix, said. “The land you have available for (future) development is in parking.”

    “Cutting or lowering its parking mandate would put the city back on track to meet the regional government Metro’s 2040 Growth Concept, which envisions high-density transit-focused urban cores in cities throughout metropolitan Portland.”

    Except that it’s going to be pretty hard to create in downtown, greater density with less parking area that’s viable if people have no effective way besides cars to get to it. Think if everybody going to and from downtown Portland had to do so by car. It would be a hopeless mess.

    Even lacking the formal grid configuration that some cities have, and bisected as it is by several major thorougfares, to make real progress in the area of reducing Downtown Beaverton’s dependence on car parking lots, a much greater level of pedestrian and non-motorized transportation usability has got to be devised and implemented for this area.

  20. Reducing parking isn’t going to fix anything.

    Look at downtown Beaverton, whether you do it on a map, an aerial photograph, or on the ground:

    To the north you have Beaverton Creek. Can’t expand north.

    To the south you have a dense neighborhood of single-family homes. Politically unpopular to go that way. (Some of the areas, particularly along Hall/Watson and Lombard, are “lower-income”.)

    To the west is a light-industrial/commercial zone that is definitely not pedestrian geared.

    To the east is Highway 217.

    Smack in the middle, you have two highways (Canyon Road/T.V. Highway and Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway/Farmington Road) that run west-east, a railroad (the Portland & Western Railroad) that runs west-east, and Hall & Watson Streets that run north-south.

    “Transit” hasn’t helped, because MAX is well north of the downtown core. Commuter Rail will skirt past it, but won’t stop. Bus stops are poorly designed, if they are anything other than a bus stop sign. I don’t honestly think there are any bus shelters in the core.

    There are already several developable tracts in downtown Beaverton, but they aren’t getting developed. Why? Could it be that downtown Beaverton is in general undesirable? Unlike the businesses that can’t get enough of the Cornell/Cornelius Pass intersection (I would call it Orenco Station, but to specify that it’s nowhere near the MAX station), Tanasbourne, Washington Square, or the other in-demand areas, Beaverton is simply a huge intersection of car dealerships, and an occassional non-automobile based business.

    Frankly, converting Highway 8 (TV Highway/Canyon Road) into a grade-separated, limited access freeway connecting 217 with Hillsboro would probably do more to help Beaverton, since it would separate through traffic from local traffic and eliminate the conflicts that arise on a daily basis.

  21. I would never allow my daughter to play in the street. I think parents allowing this are idiots & should be arrested for child endangerment. I spoke with a Washington County Deputy who defended this moronic practice, stating that he used to play in the street when he was young. Since when have residential streets become public parks? Streets are for vehicles to drive in, not for kids to play in. Kids have seen me driving down the street & walk right out in front of me. As far as I am concerned, their parents are breeders not parents.

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