Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

Did Portland’s New Parking Mandates Force Housing Costs Up?

During 2011 and 2013 when Portland opened the door to parking-free housing, construction costs declined, but it's not clear how big a role it played. Graph: Bike Portland
Housing construction costs increased after Portland imposed parking minimums for apartment buildings, but it's not clear if there's a causal relationship. Graph: Bike Portland
false

There was a window a few years ago when Portland allowed developers to construct large apartment buildings without any parking. But even in Portland there's pressure to subsidize cars at the expense of housing affordability.

In 2013, city leaders decided to require at least one space per five units in buildings with 30 or more apartments. Larger buildings required at least one space per three units.

Now the city is considering expanding parking requirements in northwest Portland. Michael Andersen at Bike Portland is sharing an informal analysis from a local affordable housing advocate who found that it was cheaper to build homes in Portland when parking wasn't required:

Portland affordability advocate Brian Cefola got in touch with us last month to share the numbers he’d crunched using local building permit data published by the U.S. Census.

It turned out, Cefola discovered, that the average cost of building a home in a Portland multi-family building dropped 24 percent between 2011, when Portland’s first wave of no-parking apartments began to open, and 2013, when the new city rule took effect.

At that point, the average price returned to its previous levels.

Cefola's analysis comes with some big caveats. City Observatory's Joe Cortright told Andersen the data is too "noisy" to draw any firm conclusions. If housing construction was concentrated in a more expensive part of town some years, that could explain the higher costs during that time, for instance.

But the data suggests that, at the very least, Portland should take a closer look at how parking requirements are affecting housing prices. Expanding minimum parking requirements to new parts of the city could have big implications for housing affordability.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Whether you recognize it or not, zoning controls your life, writes David Walters at Plan Charlotte. The Transportationist explains how a bike lane with as much traffic as a car lane may appear to be "underutilized." And Transit Center compares attempts to regulate Uber, Lyft, and similar services in Chicago and New York (spoiler: Uber's sky-is-falling objections to stricter licensing don't seem to be valid).

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Talking Headways Podcast: IrrePLACEable

Kevin Kelley on his book Irreplaceable: How to Create Extraordinary Places that Bring People Together, and the future of downtowns.

July 18, 2024

This Heat Wave is a Car Dependency Problem

Our quickly warming planet has a unique impact on people who don't or can't drive — and we need policy action to protect their health.

July 18, 2024

A Hillbilly Elegy for Thursday’s Headlines

Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, the Republican nominee for vice president, supports more federal subsidies for giant, deadly, gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs.

July 18, 2024

We Need to Stop Killing People On Our Roads; a New ‘Bikes Belong’ Campaign Could Help

A ground-breaking campaign in the 90s helped deliver the federal money America needed to fund active transportation infrastructure. Is it time to re-laucnch it?

July 18, 2024

Encouraging Seniors to Use Active and Public Transportation

Using - and encouraging the use of - active and multimodal transport can greatly enhance people's lives, especially seniors.

July 17, 2024
See all posts