Fish Will Try to Amend Apartment Parking Rules on Thursday

City Commissioner Nick Fish is wading into the apartments-without-parking controversy, proposing a compromise between the multiple factions arguing over how many parking spaces developers should be required to build on large apartment buildings.

Fish will introduce an amendment at the April 4 City Council hearing on new requirements for on-site parking at apartment projects.

His change would swap out city planner recommendations that that parking requirements start at buildings over 40 units—instead, the rules would start at buildings over 30 units, but the required parking spaces would increase more gradually.

"We've heard from lots of interested parties," Fish says, "and this amendment tries to strike a reasonable balance."

A spate of large apartments without parking has drawn ire across Portland for the past year, with rancor only growing after Mayor Charlie Hales halted a permit on one half-completed building and moved the rule hearing up by two weeks to this Thursday.

The proposed rule changes created by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability require buildings over 40 units to build a parking space for every 4 units.

Homeowners have complained that the trigger number of 41 units is too high. Developers and alternative-transit advocates have griped that the 1-to-4 ratio is too low.

So Fish's office has created a new plan:

  1. Buildings with 31 or more apartments would be required to build a parking space for every 5 units.
  1. Buildings with 41 apartments would be required to build a space for every 4 units.
  1. And buildings with 51 or more apartments would be required to build a space for every three units.

The amendment doesn't address one of the most contentious issues expected to come up this Thursday: whether the new rules will go into effect immediately as an "emergency" ordinance.

That would mean all new buildings—and the half-finished 81-unit project on Southeast Division Street that has become a poster child for controversy—would be required to meet the new minimums. 

Police say drunk vandals started a fire inside that building on March 29.