By Don MacGillivray

 

With the increase of the number of apartment buildings without parking and the anticipated general growth in the future, parking is a big issue.

To address this condition the City of Portland, Bureau of Transportation is considering easing the creation of new parking permit districts in residential areas.

The problem originally was downtown commuters parking in close-in residential neighborhoods and busing to the central city.

The high requirement for neighborhood effort in eligibility and process in the Regular Area Parking Permit has proven a barrier to initiating new programs. To maintain the vitality and livability of neighborhoods, the City Council has approved a pilot program to decrease the minimum size and simplify the process to start a Mini- Area Parking Permit.

Those affected with parking problems work with their neighborhood association to define the permit area. They in turn, submit a formal request by writing a letter to the City Traffic Engineer asking to create a new Mini Parking Permit Area.

The request must include the following: 1) definition of the problem, 2) evidence of neighborhood support, and 3) the proposed area boundaries. The area must consist of a minimum of 12 blockfaces or 2,400 lineal feet of curb space.

Within 30 days from the determination of eligibility by the City Traffic Engineer, a ballot is mailed to all addresses within the proposed area. One legal occupant of each address is eligible to vote.  A minimum of 40 percent of the ballots must be received, of which a majority (50 percent plus 1) must be “yes” votes to approve the program.

Residents that apply for a permit must: 1) show proof of residency in an APPP zone, 2) show current vehicle registration, 3) complete an application, and  4) pay the appropriate permit fee (currently $60 per year).

The applicant must either be the registered vehicle owner or provide a notarized letter from the legal owner stating permission for the applicant to use the vehicle.

One guest permit may be purchased by each address (with proof of residency) in a zone. A guest permit may be used only while the guest is actually visiting the address printed on the permit. You may obtain an application online, in person or call to have one mailed to you.

All permits require an annual fee. The area parking permit program can be expanded or eliminated with a process similar to its initiation.

For information about the Mini Area Parking Permit Pilot Project, contact Portland Bureau of Transportation.

The existing parking permit program began in 1981 in response to citizen concerns about commuter parking in neighborhoods near downtown.

There are currently several zones in operation mostly on the west side of the Willamette River. Program hours are designed around the needs of each neighborhood and are in effect during the busiest parking times.

Annexing into a neighboring Area Parking Permit Program that already exists takes approximately three to six months.

To set up a new area under the existing program, certain requirements must be met as explained in Title 16 of the City Code:

The City must agree that parking spaces in the area will be 75% occupied (25% by commuter parking) at least four days per week and nine months per year.

The area requesting the Area Parking Permit Program must work through its neighborhood association or business district association. If the area is not formally organized, requests should directly contact the Office of Neighborhood Involvement

The City Traffic Engineer must agree the Area Parking Permit Program would promote benefits within the designated area. These benefits may include: 1) Increased access to area residents and businesses, 2) Reduced traffic congestion, and 3) increased traffic/pedestrian safety

Adverse effects that may prevent implementation of the Area Parking Permit Program may include the: 1) lack of alternative modes of transportation, 2) availability of simpler, cheaper solutions 3) legal existence of more than one firm with 50 or more employees that could not operate under the permit system constraints

Applications can be filled in online, but must be printed out and mailed along with a check or money order and copies of your proof of residence (see application for details).

Mail the completed application, required proof, payroll information, and check or money order to: Bureau of Transportation System Management (503.823.5185).

With the increase of homes and apartments in the inner city and the decrease, per capita, of parking, changes such as the mini parking permit program should help the situation.

It may also encourage more residents to reduce their auto usage in favor of alternative transportation. Then with other improvements to each neighborhood that make them  more convenient such as greater nearby availability of goods and services, Portland will add to its existing reputation as a great place to live.