Apartments Without Parking Don't Equal Apartments Without Cars, Says City Study

 A much-anticipated city study of new apartment buildings without on-site parking confirms complaints from Portland homeowners: Residents in these buildings own cars, and keep them parked in front of their neighbors' houses.

A boom in the construction of these apartments has caused an uproar among homeowners on the city's east side, with Mayor-elect Charlie Hales leading the call for a building moratorium.

The study of eight apartment buildings with little or no on-site parking was conducted by a private firm for the city's planning bureau. The study, first examined by Portland Afoot, validates WW's unscientific September survey of one building on Southeast Division Street: People living in these apartments own cars, but keep them parked for evening and weekend use.

About 72 percent of the 115 people surveyed own a car, and two-thirds of them park on the street. "Many people stated that there were no amenities that would reduce their need for a vehicle," concludes the survey by David Evans and Associates.

In a Nov. 7 memo to the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission, chief planner Joe Zehnder says lack of parking doesn't discourage car ownership.

"In general, the survey of residents does not show a relationship between the availability of on-site parking and car ownership among residents," Zehnder writes. "Residents at buildings with on-site parking and those without had similar levels of vehicle ownership."

But the study also suggests that neighborhood parking hasn't become especially clogged. Most apartment residents surveyed say they can find a parking spot within two blocks of their building.

For example, at the Move the House apartment building on Division—the complex WW surveyed—the occupied street-parking spaces in a two-block radius were never more than 45 percent full, according to the study.

Neither the study nor Zehnder's letter offers suggestions for changes, but he hints at the possibility of permit parking as a solution. "The review of research literature shows that charging for parking separately from rent lowers rental costs," Zehnder writes. "It also can create an incentive for reduced car ownership, but not if on-street parking is easy."

The Planning and Sustainability Commission is holding a public forum at 1:30 pm Tuesday, Nov. 13 at Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 1900 SW 4th Ave., Room 2500A.

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