As of March 1st, every new high-density residential project in Portland has a path to ZERO parking requirements and the low-density requirements are on their last legs.
Portland’s parking requirement situation is a bit more complicated than other cities claiming to have no parking requirements. Near transit, defined as within 500 feet of frequent service bus lines or 1500 feet of a light rail station, zero parking has been required for buildings with 30 or fewer homes since 2013. Since 2017, remaining requirements were waived for larger projects near transit if they contained inclusionary affordable housing (IH) and IH is mandatory for projects with 20+ homes, setting the effective ratio for parking near transit at zero.
But for projects 501+ feet from a frequent service bus line, parking requirements remained. In mid-December, Portland City Council approved the Better Housing by Design project, which adopted form-based codes for multi-family residential zones. The proposal called for cutting remaining requirements in half, new apartment buildings that were deemed too far from transit would only have to build one parking space for every two homes.
Advocates were able to organize and make the case that the transit-proximity requirement was more trouble than it was worth. Only a small percentage of multi-family or commercial zones were “too far” from transit and it was hard to defend the damage from the occasional project caught up in red tape because of it. Mayor Ted Wheeler agreed and proposed a successful amendment to waive parking requirements for any project that provides affordable housing. Every project has a path to zero parking in Portland city limits.
Sometime in April, City Council will vote on another zoning project, the Residential Infill Project (RIP). Expected to pass and go into effect in October, RIP will eliminate all parking requirements, citywide, for low-density residential zones. At that point, Portland will join the small, but growing, list of American cities with no required residential parking.