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Driveways, parking, and garages for homes

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Vehicle parking areas are regulated to enhance the appearance and pedestrian experience of neighborhoods. When off-street parking is proposed, regulations apply for the size and placement of driveways, parking, and garages. Off-street parking is not required for development in the City of Portland.
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Do vehicle parking rules apply to your type of home?

These regulations apply to

  • Houses
  • Duplexes
  • Triplexes
  • Fourplexes

Driveways

Driveway sizes

Driveways are required to be paved and at least 9 feet wide.

Driveways must lead to parking spaces that are in allowed locations.

Ribbon driveways

It is possible to propose wheel strips that are paved with grass or other materials between them.

The strips must be measured at 9 feet on the outer edges and be at least three feet wide (a configuration of 3 feet of hard surface – 3 feet of grass – 3 feet of hard surface).

Driveway locations

General rule: No more than 40 percent of the land area between the street lot line and the front building line may be paved or used for vehicle areas. See Figure 266-2.

Diagram of five different parking configurations: a lot with neighboring lots, a corner lot, a lot in a cul de sac, a flag lot, and a lot at a dead end street. The area of 40% limitation is shown in hash marks.
Figure 266-2. Parking area limitations. Diagram of five different parking configurations: a lot with neighboring lots, a corner lot, a lot in a cul de sac, a flag lot, and a lot at a dead-end street. The area of limitations are shown in hash marks.

Alleys: If a lot abuts an alley, all parking and vehicle access to the site must be from the alley.

Corner lots: No more than 20 percent of the land area between the side street lot line and the side street building line may be paved or used for vehicle areas. See Figure 266-2.

Flag lots: If the pole of a flag lot allows vehicle access, the vehicle area may be at least 12 feet wide. This is an exception to the 40% limitation. See Figure 266-2.

Gravel driveways: Gravel surfaces may be approved when the abutting street or alley is not paved and the applicant signs a covenant agreeing to pave the area if the street or alley is paved in the future.

Narrow lots (lots less than 32 feet wide): Driveways are only allowed when they lead to a parking space that is located entirely behind the front and side street (for corner lots) building lines of a primary structure.

Shared driveways: Driveways may extend across a property line onto the neighboring property if the following are met:

  • The width of the shared driveway is at least 9 feet; and
  • There is a recorded easement guaranteeing reciprocal access and maintenance for all affected properties.

Parking areas

Parking area sizes

Off-street parking spaces are required to be 9 feet wide and 18 feet deep.

Parking spaces are not allowed within the first 10 feet from a front lot line, and on corner lots, parking spaces are not allowed within the side street setback. See Figure 266-1.

Narrow lots (lots less than 32 feet wide): Parking spaces must be located entirely behind the front and side street (on a corner lot) building line of the primary structure on the site.

Top down view of a dwelling unit with a garage. One car is parked in the garage and one parked in the driveway. Diagonal marks show vehicle and parking area is not permitted within 10 feet from the street lot line. Cross marks show parking space is not permitted where the street meets the street lot line and between the side building line and the neighboring lot lines.
Figure 266-1. Parking space location in relation to the street lot line, neighboring lot lines, and the building lines. Parking spaces are not allowed within the first 10 feet from a front lot line.

Types of vehicles allowed in home parking areas

Passenger vehicles and light trucks may be parked in any allowed parking area.

Trucks

Allowed: Pick-up trucks with single rear axles and dual rear wheels are allowed.

Not allowed: Trucks with dual rear wheels and vehicles with two or more rear axles (including truck tractors) are prohibited in residential zones.

Utility trailers, RVs, and motorhomes

Allowed: Utility trailers, accessory recreational vehicles, and motorhomes with single rear axles and dual rear wheels may be parked in allowed parking areas. Exception: They may not be parked between the front lot line and the building line.

Utility trailers and non-motorized accessory recreational vehicles may be stored on unpaved surfaces. A gravel surface is not required.

Get addition requirements on living in recreational vehicles, including tiny houses on wheels.


Garages

Garages can either be part of a primary structure on a site or a separate detached structure.

Detached garages are subject to regulations described in the Detached Covered Accessory Structures Worksheet.

Garage locations

Garage walls are subject to building setbacks of the base zone.

A garage entrance must be set back 18 feet from a street property line. Take the measurement down the center of the driveway. See Figure 930-3.

Top-down view of two rectangles that represent structures with two driveway configurations. One is curved and the other is straight. Double sided arrows that point to the street and to the structure are placed down the middle of the driveways. The arrows show where the measurement should be taken.
Figure 930-3. Measuring vehicle travel areas. The arrows show the measurement should be taken down the center of the vehicle travel area.

The location of the garage will depend on the design and location of the living area of the house. Garages cannot be located closer to the street lot line than the longest street-facing wall of the dwelling unit. See Figure 110-10.

Top down view of a dwelling unit with a garage. The front of the garage is flush with the longest street-facing wall of the dwelling unit.
Figure 110-10. Garage setback in relation to the longest street-facing wall of the dwelling unit.

Exception: If the street-facing garage wall is 40 percent or less of the length of the building façade and there is a porch at the main entrance meeting specified standards, then the garage wall may be up to 6 feet in front of the longest street-facing wall of the dwelling unit. See Figure 110-11.

Top down view of a site plan of a dwelling unit with a covered porch and garage. The garage is not more than 40% of the front-facing facade and therefore can be extended up to 6 feet in front of the longest street-facing wall.
Figure 110-11. Garage front setback exception.

Corner lots with an existing structure

If a lot has two or more street lot lines and there is an existing dwelling unit on the lot, this rule applies only to the street-facing facade on which the main entrance is located.

Garage size

There is also a limitation on the length of a garage wall that faces a street lot line.

General rule: The length of the garage wall facing the street may be up to 50 percent of the total length of the street-facing building façade. See Figure 110-8.

Top down view of a site plan of a dwelling unit and an attached garage. The garage width and the dwelling unit width are the same showing that the garage can be a maximum of 50% of the total street-facing facade.
Figure 110-8. Length of street-facing garage wall. The garage wall facing the street is no more than 50% of the total street-facing building length.

Attached houses: If all the units are 22 feet or more wide, then the 50 percent limitation applies to the street-facing façade of each unit.

If any or all the units are less than 22 feet wide, then the limitation applies to the total length of the street-facing facades.

If there are four or more attached houses and at least one attached house is less than 22 feet wide, then at least 50 percent of the total length of the walls facing the street cannot have a garage. The 50 percent length without garages must be contiguous. See Figure 110-9.

Top down view of a site plan of four equally sized dwelling units. The first two have garages that are located flush to each other. The rest do not have garages. at least 50 percent of the total length of the street-facing building facades must be without garage, and the 50 percent length without garage must be contiguous.
Figure 110-9. Four or more attached homes. The combined length of the street-facing garage wall.

Corner lots: Only the street-facing garage wall that contains the garage door must meet this standard. The 50% length limitation does not apply to the side walls of the garage.

Duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes: The 50 percent limitation applies to the total length of the walls facing the street.

For a fourplex, at least 50 percent of the total length of the walls facing the street cannot have a garage. The 50 percent length without garages must be contiguous.  See Figure 110-9.

Narrow houses: If the street-facing façade of the house is less than 22 feet long, an attached garage is not allowed facing the street. 

Existing detached garages in current setbacks

An existing detached garage that does not meet current zoning code setbacks, but was originally constructed legally is considered "nonconforming". If it doesn’t meet current setback requirements, you may still rebuild it on the footprint of the existing foundation.

Rebuild size

The rebuilt garage may be no more than 15 feet high, and the garage walls may be no more than 10 feet high, excluding the portion of the wall within a gable.

Decks are not allowed on the roof of the garage.

Addition

Additions are allowed if the combined size of the existing foundation and the addition is no larger than 12 feet wide by 20 feet deep.

The garage may be no more than 15 feet high, and the walls of the addition may be no more than 10 feet high, excluding the portion of the wall within a gable.

Decks are not allowed on the roof of the garage.


Portland Zoning Code for vehicle parking

33.110.250 Additional Development Standards for Garages.

33.266.120 Development Standards for Houses, Duplexes, Triplexes, and Fourplexes.

33.930.030.C Measuring Distances: Measurements of vehicle travel areas.


Need help?

If you have questions about requirements for driveways, parking, and garages for homes, please schedule a free 15-minute appointment with a City Planner or call 503-823-7300 to leave a message for a City Planner.