NW Portland makes space for people by not wasting it on cars

Published 2016-07-05

(Excerpted from a letter on parking minimums to the Portland City Council)

Dear Mayor Hales and Respected Commissioners,

I’m writing in opposition to the proposed parking requirements for developments in the NW Plan District. Please also consider this email written testimony in advance of tomorrow’s hearing.

I moved to Portland from Eugene in the 1990s and like many young people moving to Portland found an apartment in the wonderful NW neighborhood. The neighborhood’s abundant housing options at close proximity to the city core made my move possible. I was living on a tight budget (cue sob story about two minimum-wage jobs) but being close to downtown and not having to shell out an extra $200/mo for parking made it possible.

I lived, off and on, for five years in Northwest Portland. I bounced back there after an abortive move to California, and again after some difficult life situations. It’s where I met my wife (we were neighbors in the Presidential, 22nd/Everett). It’s a place close to my heart. It’s a place where a resourceful person can live well, cheaply. What makes it special is that it is a human-scale neighborhood built for people.

NW Portland makes space for people by not wasting it on cars.

There are so many wonderful things that draw people to Northwest:

  • Green leafy trees
  • Tasty restaurants
  • Wide sidewalks and traffic moving reasonable speeds
  • Fun little shops
  • Access to mass transit
  • Close to downtown, Powell’s, Forest Park, Washington Park, cultural events, Providence Park etc etc
  • Right-sized housing for young people, retirees, small families, new Portlanders

Conspicuously absent from this list is “plenty of cheap parking.” Because Northwest is a neighborhood for people, not for cars. In the last century-plus the Free Market has presciently set aside very little space for parking in the neighborhood, and this is exactly why it is so wonderful.

So, not to put a fine a point on it, minimum parking requirements:

  • worsen Portland’s current housing crisis
  • & do little to solve our transportation problems
  • subvert the very thing that makes NW Portland so special

Thank you,
Paul Souders