PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Parking reform could be an important step in addressing issues that people face in Portland and other big cities.
In Seattle, for example, a study shows that the city has about 5.2 parking spaces per household or 1.6 million parking spaces. It was also reported that Seattle has a population density of 13 people per acre, and a parking density of 29 parking stalls per acre.
Founded in 2018, the Parking Reform Network is a nonprofit organization that aims to educate the public on how parking policy impacts the climate, housing, transportation and equitable access to communities.
The network also partners with organizations such as People for Bikes, America Walks and The Street Trust for coalition building.
PRN has members from all over the world, but its president Tony Jordan resides in Portland. Jordan has been car-free since his car broke down in 2008, and doesn’t plan on changing that anytime soon.
“If you’re trying to build affordable housing, if you require the developer to build a bunch of parking for every affordable apartment, the cost of the construction goes up so high that they can’t do it.” Jordan said. “You’re housing the car and not the person.”
According to PRN, $10,000 in construction costs can add $100 per month to people’s rent.
He also said that an increase in the price of what is supposed to be affordable housing could push people to live farther away, which causes them to drive more. More driving can increase greenhouse gas emissions.
Furthermore, Jordan said that an abundance of driving can make streets less safe for bikers, walkers, and scooter and wheelchair users.
“Also, there’s an issue of just who has access to an area,” he said. “If we’re spending all of our resources on car infrastructure on parking lots and wider roads, there’s less money to invest in transit. And a large portion of our population doesn’t want to or can’t drive: children, old people, people who can’t afford a car.”
Despite these statistics, Portland and Oregon have been ahead of the curb in parking reform. In the ‘70s, Portland’s air quality and rail transit infrastructure were hindered by an increase in people driving cars. In 1972, Downtown Portland responded to the issue by investing in transit, pedestrian and biking infrastructure and placing a cap on parking in the area.
Much more recently, Oregon has inspired states like California, whose governor just signed bill No. 2097 into law on Sept. 22. This bill prohibits public agencies from implementing minimum parking mandates near transit.
“We have goals as a community to fight climate change, and to have a healthy, walkable, vibrant place,” Jordan said. “Parking reform is kind of important to reach those goals.”