Skip to Content
Streetsblog Chicago home
Streetsblog Chicago home
Log In
Streetsblog Network

How Parking Permits Can Improve the Politics of Walkable Development

Residents of mixed-use corridors (the red and purple areas) would be ineligible for parking permits under Portland's proposed system, creating an incentive for residents of single-family homes to buy into the idea. Map via BikePortland

Residential parking permits are often referred to as "hunting licenses" because while they grant permit holders the privilege of parking on the street, there's usually no limit to how many permits can be issued. If there are more permits in a neighborhood than available on-street parking spaces, there's still going to be a parking crunch and permit holders will still circle streets hunting for a spot.

In Portland, however, the residential parking permit program is shaping up differently, and those differences could make parking permits a more effective tool to counteract NIMBY resistance to walkable development.

The key to Portland's proposal is a limit on the number of permits in a given neighborhood. Many of the details have yet to be hashed out, but here's where things stand now, reports Michael Andersen at BikePortland:

The proposal, which the city described Friday as “preliminary,” combines two main ideas:

1) Neighborhoods would get the option to vote to start charging themselves a yet-to-be-determined amount for overnight street parking, and

2) people who live in most of the buildings along commercial corridors wouldn’t get to park in permit-parking areas overnight unless people who live in nearby residences don’t want the space.

The second aspect, which is arguably the defining concept of the proposal, would be accomplished through the city’s zoning code. In any new parking district, residents of buildings in "residential" zones would get the first chance to purchase parking permits. But mixed-use, industrial and employment zones -- zones that line almost every crowded commercial corridor in Portland where street parking is scarce -- wouldn't be included in the parking district. This would mean residents there would only be able to purchase parking permits if the "supply" of local parking spaces on nearby residential blocks (as determined by the city) exceeds the "demand" from residential zones.

It seems like the proposed lottery system is a clever way to get long-time residents on board with the idea of paid parking permits. And once those residents feel secure about on-street parking, writes Andersen, the way should be clear for "central Portland neighborhoods to keep adding new housing without also setting aside more and more space for free or cheap car parking."

Also on the Streetsblog Network today: While the Kansas City Star calls for more bike infrastructure, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorializes about streets like it's still 1960, notes NextSTL. And Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling share news about Munich's plans for "bike highways."

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Chicago

We are all in an underperforming Chicagoland transit network. But some of us are looking at the Star:Line.

According to Star:Line Chicago, "The 2034sight Plan is an ambitious — and achievable — ten-year framework to lay the groundwork to modernize Chicagoland’s existing local passenger rail system."

July 19, 2024

A semi driver fatally struck a person walking on Lower Wacker Drive. Did a locked gate contribute to the crash?

The victim may have been walking in the street because a gate limiting pedestrian access on the south side of Wacker was locked at the time.

July 19, 2024

This is Grand! CDOT cuts ribbon on new protected bike lanes on a key West Side diagonal street

The project also has lots of other nifty Complete Streets features, like raised crosswalks, bus islands, and the conversion of a dangerous slip lane to a new plaza.

July 18, 2024
See all posts