By Nancy Tannler

The SE Quadrant Plan is refining new policies to help guide development in the Central Eastside Industrial District (CEID). It is an element of the Central City Plan 2035 which will be incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan which is currently being updated. There is a lot of new code being written for different aspects of these plans. This article addresses parking.

New zoning code begins in May 2015

New zoning code begins in May 2015

One of the key components to the success of the Central City Plan is to develop a parking plan to alleviate the stress employers/employees, visitors, residents and truckers are already experiencing in this area.

The 1995 Central City Transportation Management Plan (CCTMP) was created with the intention of regulating six different types of parking in this area. The Industrial Zone includes employees, vehicle loading/unloading and visitors. The Employment Zone includes customers,  visitors, residents, employees and loading/unloading. The CCTMP writes the code linking parking to development.

In 2010 the CEID Parking Stakeholder Advisory Committee was formed to represent Central Eastside property owners, business owners, public institutions and adjacent neighborhoods. As the immensity of this task began to unfold another sub-committee the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee (TPAC) formed to help refine the process.

Together they have worked with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to develop an action plan to improve parking within the CEID.

The Southeast Examiner spoke with  stakeholder Peter Stark (Stark Design/Portland Streetcar and a member of the Central Eastside Industrial Council–CEIC and CEIC TPAC Executive Director) about how this committee is progressing and what new policies they are suggesting to alleviate the parking conundrum.

Stark said residents, visitors and businesses currently use Zone G permits for the 6,781 on street parking stalls. Research and analysis from a report in 2012 revealed that there are 14,605 parking stalls in the district (6,324 on street and 8,281 off street). These can be purchased for $70 a year and allow a person to  park throughout the CEID.

On March 10, a proposal by the CEIC TPAC subcommittee was approved to create Zone N. The new Zone N permits are for employment land use areas and will provide parking for customers and visitors.

This new zone will take effect in May 2015 and every address in the CEID will receive an application for either Zone G or Zone N. The two different zones will make it so that employees are not taking up customer/visitor parking and customers and visitors won’t be taking  up the prime employee parking.

Zone G will issue 4,707 parking permits, Zone N 2,003 and the 71 other parking stalls will be in residential areas. Stark said this will work for a period of time as long as parking stalls are monitored by the City.

All new development occurring in this district foreshadows an increase on the demand for parking in this zone. Because of this projected increase, Zone N will be phased out in May 2017.

In fall 2014, the City of Portland and CEIC and TPAC selected a consultant to conduct an inventory and parking survey of the district’s on-street parking. A general rule is that if an area has more than 85 percent occupancy, there is a problem. According to Francesca Patricolo of PBOT, the area is pushing its limits.

Patricolo’s report states the results indicate excessive demand for parking in the two hour stalls, especially during the peak hours of noon to 2 pm. The survey also indicated parking regulations are under-enforced in the district. However, on-street parking is so full that it is likely pushing local employees into non-permitted stalls.

Results also found the district is selling too many permits and needs to reduce the number of permits sold by 1,000 to help alleviate parking stress, especially during peak hours.

Three neighborhoods abut the CEID, Kerns, Hosford-Abernethy and Buckman. Land Use Chair Susan Lindsay, Buckman said her neighborhood has been experiencing overflow parking from commuters, renters and entertainment establishments for years making it difficult to park in front of or even around your house.

The uptick of development has residences considering parking permits in residential neighborhoods. “People still drive cars; they will continue to drive cars. Transportation planners need to stop pretending they don’t and plan accordingly,” Lindsay said.

Stark is also keenly aware of this truth. “I couldn’t do my job without a car. I’m all over the city attending meetings and working,” he said.

The SE Quadrant is projected to grow by 2,500 households and 9,000 jobs by 2035, for a total of 3,500 households and 26,000 jobs in the area. In the recent  past, developers have gotten away with little or no parking along streets zoned for high density infill.

Since the average parking stall can cost a developer anywhere from $10,000 – $50,000 they are not to interested in taking on this problem. In the CEID, MLK/Grand, East Burnside, SE Morrison and Belmont are the high density corridors where development can occur.

After Zone N is phased out in 2017, these areas will look at parking meters. A few have already been put in place on MLK and Grand Ave.

According to Chris Armes, Parking Operations PBOT, people tend to abuse parking permits but rarely the meters. The fee for a parking ticket is $39. She also stressed the need for more enforcement as demand for parking increases.

The CEID/TPAC subcommittees will continue to work implementing what  Patricola refers to as “best practices” for on-street parking management strategies.

They’ve come up with a semi-solution by creating the two zones but the future might require stricter permit availability, increased permit fees, and/or adding new pay stations.