City Council Won't Make Developer Add Parking on Division Street

UPDATE: Council passes amendments, doesn't force Sackhoff to comply


UPDATE, 8:30 pm: Portland City Council passed an amendment to heighten new requirements for apartment-building parking by a 4-1 vote tonight, with Commissioner Dan Saltzman voting no.

It also passed several other amendments. But it did not pass an emergency ordinance that would have required developer Dennis Sackhoff to add parking to his half-finished Division Street apartment building. 

"There is a risk we could be subject to a lawsuit," said Commissioner Steve Novick, explaining why the council wouldn't force Sackhoff to add parking.

Testimony at the pivotal hearing weighed against increasing parking requirements, with Metro Councilor Bob Stacey making a last-minute plea not to lower the trigger for on-site parking to buildings above 30 units.

"When I see a dilapidated building turned into a mixed-use building, I don't get nervous or anxious," Stacey said. "I get excited."

But Commissioner Nick Fish, who crafted the amendment creating tiered requirements starting at one parking space per three apartments for buildings above 30 units, said neighborhoods needed balance.

"I respect the purity of your vision," Fish told Stacey. "Can't we find a reasonable position that doesn't do violence to our values?"

Saltzman cast the only vote against Fish's amendment, arguing that relaxed zoning rules had transformed Division Street into "what Northwest 23rd [Avenue] used to be.

"Division Street was a bowling alley," Saltzman added. "You could throw a ball down there and nothing would happen."

The testimony against the new rules did have some effect: Fish proposed another amendment, which would grant parking exemptions to developers who included affordable housing in their buildings.

That amendment, like the overall ordinance, will get a vote next Wednesday.

ORIGINAL POST, 2:37 pm: The City Council has started a much-anticipated public hearing on new parking minimums for large apartment buildings.

It's a proposal Mayor Charlie Hales and most commissioners have said they support, so the main suspense was whether City Hall will force Beaverton-based developer Dennis Sackhoff to add parking to his half-completed project on Southeast Division Street.

The answer is no.

City Commissioner Nick Fish told media before the hearing that City Council will likely pass an emergency ordinance next week. That will allow Sackhoff to apply for a new building permit before the new rules take effect.

City sources tell WW that commissioners had considered passing the emergency ordinance today, but were warned by city attorneys that Sackhoff would have grounds to sue.

The city ordered work stopped on the building in February after a state land-use board overturned the building permit on a technicality. Hales has stepped in several times to halt work on the project.

The Portland Mercury first reported this morning that City Council likely wouldn't pass an emergency ordinance.

Meanwhile this afternoon, the Council has taken up discussion of an amendment by Fish to create three tiers of requirements for buildings, starting at 30 units. 

Fifty-nine people have signed up to testify this afternoon—three hours of testimony.  

WWeek 2015

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