How Parking Permits Can Improve the Politics of Walkable Development

Residents of mixed-use corridors (the red and purple areas) would be ineligible for parking permits under Portland’s proposed system, creating an incentive for residents of single-family homes to buy into the idea. Map via BikePortland

Residential parking permits are often referred to as “hunting licenses” because while they grant permit holders the privilege of parking on the street, there’s usually no limit to how many permits can be issued. If there are more permits in a neighborhood than available on-street parking spaces, there’s still going to be a parking crunch and permit holders will still circle streets hunting for a spot.

In Portland, however, the residential parking permit program is shaping up differently, and those differences could make parking permits a more effective tool to counteract NIMBY resistance to walkable development.

The key to Portland’s proposal is a limit on the number of permits in a given neighborhood. Many of the details have yet to be hashed out, but here’s where things stand now, reports Michael Andersen at BikePortland:

The proposal, which the city described Friday as “preliminary,” combines two main ideas:

1) Neighborhoods would get the option to vote to start charging themselves a yet-to-be-determined amount for overnight street parking, and

2) people who live in most of the buildings along commercial corridors wouldn’t get to park in permit-parking areas overnight unless people who live in nearby residences don’t want the space.

The second aspect, which is arguably the defining concept of the proposal, would be accomplished through the city’s zoning code. In any new parking district, residents of buildings in “residential” zones would get the first chance to purchase parking permits. But mixed-use, industrial and employment zones — zones that line almost every crowded commercial corridor in Portland where street parking is scarce — wouldn’t be included in the parking district. This would mean residents there would only be able to purchase parking permits if the “supply” of local parking spaces on nearby residential blocks (as determined by the city) exceeds the “demand” from residential zones.

It seems like the proposed lottery system is a clever way to get long-time residents on board with the idea of paid parking permits. And once those residents feel secure about on-street parking, writes Andersen, the way should be clear for “central Portland neighborhoods to keep adding new housing without also setting aside more and more space for free or cheap car parking.”

Also on the Streetsblog Network today: While the Kansas City Star calls for more bike infrastructure, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorializes about streets like it’s still 1960, notes NextSTL. And Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling share news about Munich’s plans for “bike highways.”

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Curb Appeal

|
Alan Durning is the executive director of Sightline. This post is #15 in the Sightline series, Parking? Lots! Imagine if you could put a meter in front of your house and charge every driver who parks in “your” space. It’d be like having a cash register at the curb. Free money! How much would you collect? Hundreds […]

Details of the Mayor’s Residential Parking Permit Proposal

|
Potential residential parking permit stickers, curbside regulations, and David Yassky. Here are some more details about the residential parking permit program proposed today by Mayor Bloomberg and DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan: A residential parking permit (RPP) plan will be included in the congestion pricing legislation that will be introduced in the City Council and State […]

There’s a (Parking) Place for Us

|
This post is #14 in the Sightline series, Parking? Lots! Alan Durning is the executive director of Sightline. There are places in this world the savvy traveler would never drive with any hope of finding street parking: Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, for example, or just about anywhere in downtown Los Angeles. That’s what you […]

Seattle Policy Honchos Look to Parking Reform to Make Housing Affordable

|
Buried under headlines about Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s plans to battle “economic apartheid” are little-noticed reforms that would reduce or do away with parking quotas that inflate the cost of housing. Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) Committee released its recommendations yesterday. Noting that about “65 percent of Seattle’s land — not just its residential […]

Seattle’s Plan to Woo Neighborhoods Into Adopting Smart Parking Prices

|
Seattle has a housing affordability problem. One way to address that is to reduce the amount of parking required in new residential buildings, lowering construction costs and increasing the number of apartments that can be built. But it’s politically difficult to reduce parking requirements because current residents who own cars worry it will make parking more scarce. As long as […]

Parking Break: What Cities Gain When They Lose Parking Quotas

|
This is the season climax, the culmination, the big reveal. Previously on Parking? Lots! Cities mandate off-street parking (guided only by junk science and groupthink). They do it in fear of territorial neighbors who want “their” curb spaces left alone. Our communities suffer horribly as a result. Information technology is shaking things up, though, and […]