By Midge Pierce

Few issues rile up Portlanders quite so much as parking. On the eastside, it is dividing those who seek it from those who seek to reduce it. 

As the Richmond neighborhood grapples with a squeeze caused by developments on SE Division St., the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) held an open house to announce exploration of a parking permit proposal for the area. 

PBOT will appoint an advisory group of businesses, renters and homeowners to work on design and boundaries. The focus will likely be several blocks north and south of Division between 39th Ave and 29th Ave. 

PBOT representatives acknowledged that implementing parking permits may impact adjacent areas that would continue to have free, non-permit parking.

Richmond Neighborhood Association’s Allen Field emphasized that any parking permit plan has to be voted in by those affected. After ballots are mailed, perhaps next winter, at least 50 percent must be returned and 60 percent of those must approve it before a plan is adopted. 

After adoption, if it does not work, it can be voted away, according to Field. 

Attendee comments ranged from cost concerns and outrage that tax-paying residents are burdened with a problem caused by developers, to testimonials about hardships parents of small children and seniors face when unable to park and unload near their homes.

Longtime bike activist Doug Klotz was on hand with a timely reminder to drivers to stop blocking visibility by adhering to state parking requirements to leave a 20-foot gap between cars and corners. 

The Richmond parking squeeze typically occurs in the evenings and on weekends when popular restaurants and shops along Division are busiest. 

Those demands are quite different from the crunch and congestion caused by daytime commuters in Buckman where parking programs have been around for several years and expanded to more streets as more apartments are built. 

By contrast, Hawthorne Blvd. stakeholders, also experiencing new growth, nixed a program proposal last year for fear it could hurt local businesses. 

Next year, PBOT’s 2021 Hawthorne Pave and Paint project, considered an opportunity to make the street safer, may impact parking in as yet undetermined ways. 

Tony Jordan of the Parking Reform Network indicated that close-in commuter programs like Buckman’s can complement hours residents are away to work. As growth challenges make parking scarcer, he suggested selling special day-use permits to commuters that could raise funds for transit subsidies and safety programs. 

He added that congestion may necessitate overnight permits as proposed by a Centers and Corridors toolkit. For Richmond, he advocated an equitable balance between “residents, workers, visitors and patrons of all incomes and abilities” as well as awareness of both costs and impacts of “building more and building less” parking.

When it comes to permits, only one thing is certain: you can’t please everyone. 

Buckman Board member Sam Noble summed it up, “I hear plenty of complaints about things that don’t work well (including the dubious pair that permits are both too expensive and too inexpensive) and very few comments from happy residents.” 

PBOT is accepting applications to serve on the Richmond advisory council. See portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/752134.