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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Trading the parking space in front of your house for a Subway shop

The greedy illegitimi who are slapping up large cr-apartment bunkers without parking in what used to be nice Portland neighborhoods act like they're doing everybody a favor when they agree to put storefronts along the street on the first floor. They use that as a bargaining chip in dealing with the outraged neighbors about the lack of parking for their hoped-for hipster tenants.

The sad thing is that the busybodies in the neighborhood associations are going for the bait. And so it goes up along groovy Mississippi Avenue:

Members of the Boise Neighborhood Association are sending a letter of support to the city for a planned 42-unit apartment complex at 4018 N Mississippi Ave. The project is being built by Dennis Sackhoff, the Beaverton-based developer behind the halted Division Street project.

But the neighborhood association only signed off on the building after Sackhoff adjusted his plans to include retail space along the full length of the building facing Mississippi Avenue. The initial plans included no storefronts.

Forty-two units will bring about 35 more cars to a neighborhood where parking has already become a big issue. In a few years, the city will be installing parking meters and selling residents permits to park in front of their own houses. By then the permits will probably run $100 a year. This is that trademark Portland "livability."

Comments (21)

How long 'til the Parking Vampires adopt the new phrase from Geek Central at Tri-Met?

"There is never a good time for these kinds of adjustments but we have to raise the parking permit fees to address the embedded payment inequities."

Fast forward 10 years ... the Subway is gone and replaced by a martial arts studio and a pot pipe--er, I mean "art glass"--shop ...

And here's a little question, brought up by friends in Austin dealing with the hipster nightmare that is SXSW. Okay, so these spaces belatedly have retail space on the bottom floor. What sort of plans do they have for parking space out front on the road, and what's to keep the apartment residents from taking up said space for themselves? After all, it's going to be a bit hard for shoppers to reach these places if all of the available parking is taken up by "visitors" of the residents, isn't it?

The thing is that even on relatively trendy streets there is eventually a limit to the amount of retail store frontage that an area can support.

We can have a NW 23rd, and a Hawthorne, and a Pearl District, but we can't have 20 of them all located within a half mile of each other.

Snards, you're absolutely right. Worse, I've seen firsthand what happens when everyone tries. It's amazing how many times, in cities ranging from Boston to Fort Worth, where you've seen this game play over and over. Except in locations where the rents are kept artificially low or even practically waived to keep tenants (Dallas's Uptown area is a particularly tenacious example), those retail spaces remain empty for years because the property owner gets more on tax deductions on the empty property than on paid rent. Meanwhile, the apartments fill up with creative class clowns who think that everyone should live like that...until they have kids or get a real job and move to the suburbs.

Texas brings up something very important -- cities have to have a way to avoid seeing landlords keep properties vacant. We need to have a solid and increasing disincentive to keeping properties vacant.

What is really needed is to shift property taxation within urban growth boundaries off of the improvements and onto the land itself, at least for commercial zoned property. Land value taxes, or even two rate taxes, with land taxed more than improvements, raises the carrying cost of vacancies, rewards investors for improvements, and discourages what Texas points out. Vacancies in commercial property are a serious problem and help contribute to the death spiral that fuels the urban renewal machine, which, while not a scam in every single instance, is a very inefficient and graft-prone way to try to counteract precisely the problems that the city's other subsidies and the tax code are creating.

"Death spiral" for who? Who benefits from leaving things just the way they are? That's the rock I'd like to see what lies underneath.

"Death spiral" indeed, Mr G.
A death spiral for the livability of a neighborhood that would benefit from leaving things just the way they are.

The so called Boise Neighborhood Association ceased to represent the interests of those of us who reside here 10 years ago. The core business aspect of the association shouted down residents concerns for parking and traffic - and signed a letter of support for the first cr-apartment bunker and it's been downhill ever since. Just ask any Michigan St homeowner about the parking - let alone the "bikeway".
The livability was usurped by garbage tossing, noisy, disrespectful "customers" and parking bandits who force residents to walk , sometimes blocks, to their own homes.
The "gangbangers" had more respect.

Death spiral. indeed.

Like I commented elsewhere here yesterday in reply to a comment by clinamen, these "Neighborhood Associations" are problems and need to be overhauled -- they've long been co-opted and are not effective advocacy organizations, if they ever were.

Taking their track records on the cr-apartmentalization of Portland and the city ordinances that enable that kind of density-dumping junk, as just one example.

They ought to be called "Neighborhood Dissociations."

I hope my comment wasn't confusing. What I meant was, who is it that is benefits from this "death spiral"? Clearly, it's not the residents as they keep getting screwed over and over again.

this building is going up in my hood, i own a home just a few blocks away. i think this outcome is fine.

i wish we could require people to build underground parking. but i am not even sure that would create a better outcome-- forcing people to build private parking might alleviate the availability of public on street parking, but it might not. is there any evidence to support this? everyone talks about this as if it is a fact, but i could imagine that building more parking just creates more cars. in the same way that widening highways doesn't reduce congestion, it just increases the number of cars on the road.

adding more cars to the hood without a doubt increases pollution. it increases congestion. i am more concerned with my travel times getting thru that 4 way stop on mississippi than off street parking!

george, the city in fact recently did a study that found that around 75% of residents in parkingless buildings have cars, which they park on the street. So adding parking spots will not "create" the cars. They are coming anyway.

Wouldn't you like your new neighbor, the apartment building investor, to remediate the impacts of those cars himself instead of making the public do it on our streets? He's off-loading the cost/inconvenience of his parking situation on to you. Do you think he'll share the profits from his building with you too?

Interesting tidbit: it appears that the developer Dennis Sackoff is the father of Katee Sackoff aka Starbuck of Battlestar Gallactica fame.

Snards, not sure how that study relates to what I am talking about.

My question is, does requiring private parking for new multi units reduce the use of public parking on right of ways?

The requirement obviously increases parking capacity, but I could also see in the long run that it would increase usage as well. My guess here is that parking capacity is analogous to road capacity: there are studies that show over the long run increasing road capacity does not reduce congestion, it just increases use. Again, its just a guess. Not sure one way or another.

But imagine you are a 1 car couple living in a 2br apartment. Your rent includes a single spot in an adjacent lot (bank wouldn't fund the building with underground parking, so developer purchased adjacent lot and poured asphalt). There is available off street parking in your hood because the neighbors required 1 spot per unit on your building. Do you become a 2 car couple because there is plenty of parking available?

We need a street like Alberta to require private parking and a street like Mississippi to not require private parking and see what happens.

My suspicion is that, if forced to provide at least 1 parking space for every 4 units, the apartment managers/owners will charge an extra fee to residents for access to the parking spots. It's already happening all over town. That means that a majority of residents may opt out and park on the street anyway. In one of our local condominiums, those with garages were recently told that they had to use the garage to park a car; they couldn't use it as a storage unit. This didn't go over very well with several tenants who don't own cars and thought that, since they were paying for the space, they should be able to do whatever they wanted with it. The situation is still in mediation.

Re. retail space, the only thing that seems to move into these spaces are chain stores: Starbucks, Subway, H & R Block and the like. I have yet to see a barber shop, veterinary clinic, second-hand store, small grocery, hardware store, Five & Dime, dentist, or bookstore locate there.

i wish we could require people to build underground parking. but i am not even sure that would create a better outcome-- forcing people to build private parking might alleviate the availability of public on street parking, but it might not. is there any evidence to support this?

You wish? It damn well used to be a requirement!
A requirement to provide adequate parking was in place until when? until the developers took over city hall? until those who don't care about the character of our city moved here and decided they can lobby/change whatever they want? until the politicians/planners decided to change the good codes we had that provided some measure of livability/stability for the residents of the apartments and the neighborhoods. How handy is it to come home after going out for the evening and then having to drive around and around and around looking for a place to park one's car? Bring the GOOD codes back!
Fat chance that will happen with Hales back in since he was a big part of dismantling them.

when was their a requirement to build underground parking?

i am not aware of any older apartments with underground parking. maybe the fontaine? can't think of any more off the top of my head.

i do see a lot of places with surface and ground floor parking. does anyone prefer that? i would rather have more people park out in front of my house than my neighbor's house turn into a parking lot.

When I said it damn well used to be a requirement, I added a requirement to provide adequate parking. . . not to mean that underground was required. However, it would be good to do underground and if the UGB is so important to the planners, with scarcity of land, they could make some underground parking a requirement. If it doesn't pencil out, that might prevent these apartments without parking from popping up all over the city. Who said a neighbor's house has to be turned into a parking lot? If the land is that scarce within our UGB I would say the plan is flawed. In my view, pushing the parking problems into neighborhoods in wrong. The entire scene creates instability in many ways.

I would venture to guess that most of the people in neighborhoods would not want others continuously parked in front of their homes.

George, maybe you weren't born yet or didn't live here, but back in 50s thru mid l990's parking was a requirement. Based on number of bedrooms for apartments, condos, etc. For commercial it was based on square footage. Hales was a part of changing all this with Planning Director Gil Kelly and others, plus a bunch of Planners and other commissioners.

Zoning codes are changed all the time and they can change again. State LDCD requires frequent zoning code reviews. Plus, there is the variable of strong code enforcement and proper plan check reviews that affects what is built. I think we need a history lesson on urban planning, codes, etc., but not by PSU.


what buildings from the era of required parking are paragons of neighborhood compatibility? when i think of that era, i think of joe weston parking out front apartments. very unfriendly, and far worse than anything built these days. back to the fontaine, that is a building that had underground parking (and surface parking) and is built out many stories over neighboring properties. i like this building, but i would prefer a no parking value engineered 4 story box with retail below.


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