The Electric Vehicle (EV) Ready Code Project amends the Portland Zoning Code (Title 33) to require all new multi-dwelling and mixed-use development with five or more units — that include onsite parking — to provide EV-ready charging infrastructure at higher rates than required by State rules. The amendments include developments standards that will apply to EV charging installations.
The EV Ready Code Project amendments are part of the bureau’s work to reduce carbon emissions in and around Portland. These amendments are intended to implement key elements of the City of Portland’s adopted Climate Emergency Workplan, Electric Vehicle Strategy, Portland 2035 Transportation System Plan and 2035 Comprehensive Plan’s Policy 9.6. In addition, the amendments are responsive to recent State legislation, House Bill 2180 (2021), which directs the State Building Code Division (BCD) to amend state building code to require that new construction of certain buildings include electrical charging infrastructure for a percentage of parking spaces. Lastly, the amendments work in tandem with the Department of Land Conservation and Development’s Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities Rulemaking process, which developed an administrative rule (OAR 660-12-0410) to increase the minimum requirement of EV-ready charging infrastructure for new construction up to 40% of parking spaces in urban areas. This project advances both city policies and state provisions, while balancing the limitations of each.
The project held hearings with the Planning and Sustainability Commission and City Council during fall/winter in 2022-23. City Council approved the project on February 8, 2023, with an implementation date of March, 31, 2023.
Zoning Code changes
The EV Ready Code Project amended the code to:
- Require developments with five or more new dwelling units, when including parking spaces, to provide electric vehicle-ready infrastructure as follows:
- 100% of parking spaces when six or fewer spaces are provided.
- 50% of parking space when more than six spaces are provided.
- Add development standards (e.g., placement) for all EV-ready installations.
- Clarify how EV-ready installations are categorized in land use code; they are generally an accessory use, but occasionally they could be a primary use.
- Exclude the cost of EV improvements in the value of the site’s improvements for retrofits.
Related Building Code provision
While the Zoning Code amendments regulate the number of parking spaces that must provide EV-ready infrastructure, the provisions in OAR 918-460-0200 (Building Codes Division) define the requirements for EV-ready infrastructure, while the Oregon Structure Specialty Code governs which plans will be reviewed.
The City of Portland has adopted policy direction to support the use of electric vehicles. While other policies prioritize walking, bicycling, transit, and shared vehicles over private cars, the City prioritizes zero-emission over fossil-fueled private cars for their higher efficiency and reduced air quality impacts.
Research shows that access to convenient charging is a key factor in the decision to buy an electric vehicle. Requiring developers to provide the conduit and electrical capacity needed for future charging equipment/stations with new parking facilities will increase the use of EVs and save substantial costs on future charging station installation.
Electric vehicles are typically charged at home, work, or publicly accessible charging stations. But installing the necessary infrastructure to support EV charging after a building has been constructed can be cost prohibitive. So, we need to ensure that buildings are designed to support future installation of EV chargers. This concept is known as “EV readiness.”
The average lifespan of a building is 60 years. A building that is EV-ready at the time of construction will support a climate-friendly future and minimize future retrofit-related costs.
Key equity goals
Low-income people and communities of color are more impacted by COVID-19 than the general population due to underlining health conditions, such as asthma, lung infections, and other respiratory diseases that are exacerbated, and often caused by, exposure to poor air quality. This work to advance EV-ready buildings was done in partnership with communities of color and other under-represented Portlanders to ensure that their lived experience, needs and ideas were considered as we developed the amendments.
Our equity goals included:
- Expand EV access. Everyone, especially renters, low-income people, and communities of color, are able to use electric vehicles to access future jobs, education, and services.
- Inclusion in technology advances. As governments develop more aggressive clean fuel requirements and vehicle manufacturing companies phase out internal combustion engines, low-income people and communities of color are not left out of the future transportation system.
- Public health and air quality. Low-income people and communities of color are not disproportionately exposed to transportation-related air pollution due to both residential segregation and the siting of multi-dwelling housing near freeway air pollution sheds.
- Reduced household costs. Low-income people and communities of color benefit the most from EVs. The fuel and maintenance cost savings associated with EVs are more significant for low-income households compared to medium and higher income households.
Working in tandem with State
In 2017, Portland City Council adopted the City of Portland EV Strategy [Resolution No. 37255], directing BPS staff to explore EV parking and charging infrastructure requirements in new multi-family and commercial construction projects that include parking. In November 2019, Council passed Ordinance #189769, directing BPS to scope updates to City code that address changing mobility needs, including mobility hubs and EV charging stations. While City staff were scoping the options for these local regulations, the legislature and state agencies began creating their own set of requirements, including options through State codes and rules. For some of the amendments, the City needed to wait for the State work in order to implement our local policies.
Project steps and timeline
Share information – Winter to Summer 2020
Code concepts – Fall 2020 to Winter 2021
Discussion Draft – Spring 2022
Proposed Draft and Planning and Sustainability Commission hearing – Summer to Fall 2022
Recommended Draft and City Council hearing – Winter 2023
Effective Date – March 31, 2023