If you want to get people in the denser areas of Portland excited, all you have to do is bring up the subject of parking. There are parking disputes, frustrations, “differences of opinion,” and differences in philosophy all over the City about how much, where, and what kind. For example, whether or not Northwest Portland needs a parking garage on N.W. 23rd Avenue or should have paid parking has been a lively topic of conversation for Northwest Portland residents, businesses, and shoppers alike for years. Talk to any downtown Portland shopper who comes by way of car from the suburbs and there’s usually some grumbling about finding parking. Sometimes the “parking problem” is more perception than reality, but then, perception often becomes reality.
The September 19, 2012, edition of Willamette Week looks into the densification of the Richmond neighborhood, around S.E. Division – just one area where apartment and condominium developments have been approved by the City with no requirement that they provide any parking. Not surprisingly, residents and businesses in the surrounding area become frustrated with the lack of parking, since the new residents with cars still need a place to park them. That “place” will often be on-street parking. Those with bikes are accommodated by a City requirement of 1.1 bicycle parking spaces for each new dwelling unit.
In her September 19, 2012, blog post in response to the Willamette Week article, Portland Urbanista writer Linda Baker made a good point on the subject of development without parking requirements. She writes: “Reducing parking without increasing bus service makes no sense whatsoever. If you want people to drive less you have to do more than . . . eliminate parking spaces. You have to add transportation options to accommodate the additional number of residents. And as much as I love bicycles, adding bike lanes and bike parking is not sufficient in and of itself to get people out of their automobiles.” In this era of reduced bus service and increased fares, Ms. Baker’s point is well taken.