Portland’s Parking-Free Apartment Boom

Portland is undergoing a bit of a building boom. According to local planners, about 40 apartment projects have come online in the last year and a half. Here’s the best part: More than half of those apartment projects have no parking — for cars anyway.

Evan Burton is one of the growing numbers of Portland apartment dwellers who don't own a car. Photo: Oregon Public Broadcasting

Portland developers have been choosing to forgo building car storage into their residential projects, and that’s helping renters save big, reports Oregon Public Broadcasting.

“The cost of parking would make building this type of project on this location unaffordable,” developer Dave Mullens told OPB. “Parking a site is the difference between a $750 apartment and a $1,200 apartment. Or, the difference between apartments and condos.”

A Portland planner told OPB that the city is consciously trying to “grow up” to increase density, and that current zoning allows for residential development without parking. Planners said neighborhoods that attract car-free renters must be “transit friendly, nice and walkable.”

But rest assured, Portland is not without its NIMBYs.

“Conflicts between developers and neighbors are flaring up all over Portland,” OPB reported. The station described the disagreements pitting home owners against renters.

When it comes to parking policy that supports walkable neighborhoods, not everyone is going to be supportive. But you can’t argue with the results in Portland — a strong market for development, and housing options that are more affordable. More cities should be seizing on policies that make it easier to build without parking.

Seattle recently implemented some parking reforms in transit rich areas. Might we expect to see the same influx of car-free buildings and residents soon?