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About the Parking Compliance Amendments Project (PCAP)

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Image of a surface parking lot in downtown Portland
Project purpose, background, proposals, steps and timeline.
Photo credit: Jonathan Maus / Bike Portland
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Project purpose

The Parking Compliance Amendments Project (PCAP) addresses the State’s administrative rule changes approved in 2022 through the Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities (CFEC) rulemaking process. The new rules require cities to remove or severely restrict the amount of minimum parking mandates within the zoning codes.

The Parking Compliance Amendments Project removes minimum parking requirements citywide and makes other adjustments to parking maximums and parking standards to align with these adopted rules, which are required to be implemented in the Portland Zoning Code by June 30, 2023.

The zoning code amendments include changes needed to implement the following four project proposals. The amendments also address code consistency or clarification issues, or make other changes to bring the regulations into conformance with State rules.

Proposal:

1. Remove minimum parking requirements.

2. Update and simplify parking maximums.

3. Add new development standards for surface parking lots.

4. Miscellaneous technical items.

Project background

Between 2021-22, the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) developed a set of state criteria called the Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities (CFEC) rulemaking. These rules apply to the eight most populated regions in the state and require communities within those areas to change their local transportation and land use plans to ensure Oregonians have more safe, comfortable ways to get around, and don’t have to drive long distances just to meet their daily needs. The rules are intended to support the state’s goals for reducing transportation-related pollution, which accounts for approximately 38% of Oregon’s climate pollution. They were adopted by DLCD and put in place in July 2022.

There are many components to the rules, including one for more populated cities/urban regions to develop climate-friendly areas. These denser areas are places of intense growth, which allow taller buildings with a greater emphasis on pedestrian and alternative modes of mobility. Most of these provisions are required to be implemented with a city’s next transportation system plan update. For cities in the Portland Metro area, they must be implemented after Metro updates its Urban Growth Management Plan to align the climate-friendly area requirements with centers of the region sometime in 2025. This element of the CFEC rules is not being addressed by this project.

Other changes dictated by the CFEC have more immediate implementation dates, including:

  • Rules that require the waiver of parking mandates in areas within ½ mile of frequent transit or ¾ mile of a rail station, as well as waivers for certain development types became effective on Jan. 1, 2023.
  • In addition, the CFEC requires jurisdictions to augment recently approved state building requirements for electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure. Those changes, incorporated into the City of Portland’s recently adopted EV Ready Code Project, go into effect on March 31, 2023.
  • Finally, the CFEC rules require cities to amend their zoning/development regulations to either remove minimum parking requirements citywide or, at a minimum, remove them for areas or development affected by the rules that went into effect on January 1 in conjunction with other parking management provisions.
  • These changes are to be accompanied by changes related to parking maximums, creation of special standards for mid- to large-sized parking lots, and limits on the amount of a site used for surface parking. These changes need to be implemented by June 30, 2023.

The CFEC also includes rules specific to Portland for new parking structures. The City has received an extension to implement these rules until 2025 while DLCD develops clearer guidance for implementation of those rules.

Proposals

The focus of the Parking Compliance Amendments Project is to implement the new parking mandate rules and parking lot design requirements mandated by the CFEC rulemaking. These new rules must be implemented by June 30, 2023. The amendments include the following proposals:

1. Removal of minimum parking requirements

The CFEC rules require the removal of either most or all minimum parking requirements. There are two options to meet the requirement:

  • Remove all minimum parking mandates citywide; or
  • Reduce mandates in some but not all areas. This option requires the City to meet certain requirements, including unbundling parking from associated development, identifying “climate-friendly areas” and removing parking mandates in those areas, increasing the amount of paid parking, taxing parking lot revenue, and more.

For several reasons, the City is opting to remove all minimum parking mandates in order to comply with the CFEC rules. First, it is in alignment with existing City policy decisions that have reduced minimum parking mandates beginning in the 1980s, initially in downtown with the Central City Plan, and more recently in single-dwelling zones with the Residential Infill Project. The cumulative effect of these policies is that there are only a few areas of the city where minimum parking requirements still exist, mostly on the outer fringes of the city where nearly 90% is zoned for open space or industrial uses (see Figure 1). As a result, the impacts of removing the remaining minimum parking requirements would have minimal effect because they only apply to a limited geography.

Map showing areas that currently have no minimum parking requirements and areas where minimum parking mandates would be removed with PCAP.
Map showing areas that currently have no minimum parking requirements and areas where minimum parking mandates would be removed with PCAP. For more detail, please use the Areas with No Minimum Parking Requirements map (PDF) file below.

The second reason to remove minimum parking mandates is that the zoning code will be easier to understand and implement. If the City were to choose to maintain some minimum parking requirements, meeting those CFEC rules would require more complex analysis and code changes that would only apply in a very limited area.

The bulk of the amendments in this proposal will remove all references to minimum parking requirements in the main parking chapter in the Zoning Code, 33.266, as well as other references to parking minimums and required parking throughout the code. The amendments will also eliminate a series of exemptions/exceptions to minimum parking because they are no longer needed, further simplifying the parking chapter.

2. Update and simplify parking maximums

The City established parking maximums many years ago in accordance with the requirements of Metro. The CFEC rules provide a new set of parking maximum requirements and guidelines for cities to follow. These amendments align our parking maximums with the CFEC rules and simplify some of the ratios to be more straightforward. The project also amends some exceptions to the parking maximums to simplify their application citywide, as well as align structured parking allowances with City goals to shift away from providing too much parking for single-occupant vehicles. Previously, maximums for structured parking had no upper limit. These amendments provide a maximum limit for structured parking that will accommodate most situations.

In several plan districts, special parking maximums have been added over time, some of which pre-date the addition of parking maximums in Chapter 33.266. In cases where the plan district parking maximums are identical or almost identical to the base maximums, the plan district regulations were removed or simplified so that the maximums of 33.266 apply in more areas.

3. Development standards for mid- to large-size surface parking lots

The CFEC rules include several requirements for surface parking lots. One rule applies to large land uses with 65,000 sq ft of floor area and limits the amount of surface parking area. A second rule applies to surface lots in excess of ¼ acre. This rule has two components:

  1. Requires new parking areas over ¼ acre to choose from a menu of tree shading, solar provision, or a state green building option (the latter only applies to public buildings).
  2. Mandates that accessways and pedestrian paths on these lots include trees.

The project amendments incorporate these requirements into the development standards for parking lots in section 33.266.130.

4. Miscellaneous technical items

The amendments above create some additional situations where the code needs clarification when referencing parking or certain development situations. Several miscellaneous amendments are being made to further clarify the intent of the code in those situations. More detail can be found in the commentary and code amendments in Section II.

Project steps and timeline

March 17, 2023 — Proposed Draft released for public testimony

March 28, 2023 — Planning Commission briefing

April 11, 2023 — Planning Commission public hearing

May 2023 — Recommended Draft released for public testimony

June 2023 — As-Amended Draft released for Portland City Council public hearing and vote

June 30, 2023 — Implementation deadline for state compliance

Contact

JP McNeil

City Planner II, Planning and Sustainability

Past Events

Available Online