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Bend councilor proposes city consider removing minimum parking requirements

More flexibility for development a growing trend across country

(Update: Adding video, comments by councilor, city parking official)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- During the Bend City Council's meeting on Wednesday evening, new City Councilor Melanie Kebler asked, and staff and colleagues agreed to examine the idea of removing minimum parking requirements for new developments proposed in the city.

During the council's work session, when councilors can request agenda items for future discussion, Kebler said parking minimums in the city's development code reduce the amount of land Bend has available to build homes, and affordable housing is the No. 1 issue for residents right now.

"This is one tool we can use to remove some barriers to get more homes and more types of homes built here in Bend," Kebler said Friday.

Removing these barriers could leave more decisions in the hands of developers.

"We're just saying, 'We're taking away that government mandate and allowing the builder to decide how much his or her tenants are going to need,'" Kebler said.

Parking minimums are local laws that require private businesses and residences to provide a certain number of off-street parking spaces.

There's been a movement around the country by communities in recent years to re-evaluate minimum parking requirements and reduce or eliminate them in some areas, to reflect changing lifestyles.

"Land is so valuable in Bend right now," Kebler said. "Every little piece of land that we require to be storage for a car, takes away from our ability to have a home built for somebody in Bend."

In a recent community survey of Bend residents, 34% cited social issues as the most important problem in Bend, with affordable housing leading as a subcategory, at 23%.

City Parking Services Manager Tobi Marx said removing parking minimums would allow more flexibility, and it's a trend many cities across the country are adopting.

"It's actually very beneficial, especially for affordable housing, because parking costs a lot of money to be built," he said.

Marx said removing these requirements could give developers more options, but a possible downside is developers not allotting enough parking spaces for their residents.

Marx added that should it become a big enough problem, the city might have to step in.

"I mean, a developer wants to make money," Marx said. "They're not going to build something that they can't rent out."

Marx said parking minimums can hinder new developments and add cost factors.

"Minimum requirements are something we do because it's what we've always done," Marx said.

And Kebler said future development might not have to mean as much outward expansion.

"People don't want to sprawl endlessly into our awesome natural areas that surround us," Kebler said. "So let's do the best with the land in our boundaries."

City Manager Eric King said he would return with a work session date after meeting with staff to discuss the issue.

Bend / Central Oregon / Government-politics / Top Stories
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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.

Comments

70 Comments

  1. How do these people get elected? The so called housing crisis will never go away as long as California and big city transplants are pouring in. If there’s any sort of crisis right now in Bend (other than homeless) it is lack of parking.

  2. I was ticketed in the lot behind the Tower Theater last week after being there for 9 minutes, picking up a pizza. I challenged it and it was dropped. What an unreal ripoff!

  3. Melanie – where would you like them to park when they are home? Whose home would you suggest they park in front of? We are already seeing complaints about that, hence the new city parking fee to park in front of your house in some of your neighborhoods already? Have you really thought this through?

      1. Since we are now calling names “never Trumper” of course it means apartments…. however just where do you think the apartment overflow is parking??? All up and down streets …… in front of other homes causing massive congestion on residential streets…. basically turning them into one way streets! I can not tell you how many times a day I have to break and try to pull to the side because cars driving don’t fit on residential streets now.

      1. With all due respect this is not Portland. Portland has a bus system and mass transit and only gets a few inches of snow on average per year. It seems to me, if you’re not going to provide a space for cars, you need to already have in place an efficient way to get large numbers of people from one part of town to another and Bend and Central Oregon is not at that place. And spending time during City Council meetings on something like this seems like just more wasted and unproductive time.

        1. So build a huge transit system before there is a need so that apartments can be built? That’s not going to happen. Even with parking changes it will takes years for enough apartments to be built to cause problems. That gives the city years to buiy up the transit system as needed.

          1. Unfortunately, waiting for the problem to occur is why we are where we are now. We don’t even have an adequate bus system in place. And if you take a look at the eastern section of town around Costco, you’ll get an example of what happens with apartments, that’s happening right now not years from now. She really needs to step back, look at the whole picture, what needs to be in place and work toward that goal instead of just throwing something out there without thought to what problems would be created.

            1. She asked to discuss it, a long long ways from any formal proposal. In general, new councilors are supposed to bring new ideas to discuss, and then learn (often learning why things are done the way they are and the tradeoffs involved.)

          2. No, wait until it’s too late to charge the scumbag builders and developers for the damage they cause. That way, they can profit from what everybody else has to pay for. Meanwhile plenty of money for campaign contributions and advertising on KTVZ.

  4. I’m not an expert and I don’t know what the actual parking minimums are but please allow me to opine 🙂
    People are still going to own and drive cars. It is aspirational but I fear a bit naive to think otherwise. So increasing housing density is going to increase the density of cars needing to be parked somewhere. I guess they can all be parked on the street but that is not in line with the other goals of walkable, bikeable, safe streets. And looks like crap and interferes with garbage pickup, plowing, traffic flow. I think landlords and developers could get a little creative with parking (and maybe less greedy?) Ditching parking minimums seems like allowing landlords and developers license to max out the envelope ($$$) and make their neighbors/tenants deal with the problem of parking.
    Maybe in the future when infrastructure for public transportation and safe biking is there, and we truly are in desperate need of space (not yet I don’t think).

  5. This is the same logic the OSU Cascades used to not build a parking lot and see how that went. I don’t really see an excessive amount space available at most apartment complexes now. And once you meet the federal requirements for the handicapped, you won’t have any parking at all.

  6. Melanie,

    Perhaps you didn’t live here when the city permitted OSU Cascades location. The promise was that students would ride bikes and take public transportation.

    Have you asked businesses near the campus what has happened? I suppose there’s a reprieve with Covid, but that will end. Ideals and reality clash when there’s a foot of snow on the ground.

  7. Is Councilor Melanie Kebler connected in any way with the Developer/Builder/Real Estate community?
    Or maybe the bicycle/scooter/skateboard community?

  8. Here (as with SDC for parks) we have a trade off between long term livability and amount of affordable housing. If a sufficient amount of affordable housing was a goal that could ever be achieved, say in 5 or 15 years, then perhaps I could understand taking a hit in livability to achieve this goal. However, let’s be realistic. The goal of having enough affordable housing, such that we don’t need any more will never be achieved. Unless our Capitalistic society is radically changed (which I doubt) the need for low income housing will always outstrip supply. Thus we need to always factor long term livability into the equation or we will end up like the places people are moving here to get away from.

  9. This will separate the capitalists from the parking entitled socialists. Want a parking space? Pay higher rent or higher cost for a place that has one. Don’t want a parking space? Maybe save some money and rent or buy a place that doesn’t have parking.

  10. This is NOT Portland. We drive cars here, and need parking. Bikes are fine when there isn’t snow/ice on the ground. Public transportation is sketchy. Many live where it doesn’t go. The simple process of getting groceries in the house becomes a nightmare with no parking. Of course it’s expensive, land here is expensive. Deal with it. Do not change the minimum requirements.

  11. These are the policies you get when your elected officials are funded by Developers! Check the campaign contribution rolls! Sounds like an opportunity for KTVZ to do some investigative reporting.

  12. And loss of neighborhood livability due to overflow parking using local streets in 5, 4, 3…
    .
    Check out the apartments and streets around Worthy Brewing to see the demise in action.

  13. This is a good idea. The vast majority of builders would still have off street parking because it adds value. The parking spaces would just be more realistic and function better, not like the giant city spec crew cab American pickup truck size ones. There would be very few developers willing to gamble with zero parking. It would also create opportunities for private pay to park lots and garages.

    1. Quite the opposite. Builders will squeeze houses as tight as possible, and then when people realize they need parking, they will shrug their shoulders. The people who didn’t buy houses with no parking will pick up the tab in the form of financing new parking garages. We don’t need to turn this into a shanty town. If people want to move here, they can pony up. If they can’t afford it…..don’t move here. why do we NEED to provide housing to everyone that wants to live here?

      1. In general: We cannot prohibit people from moving here. Government can only have minimal impact on supply and demand. State land-use law requires localities to project 20 years of growth and take steps to provide adequate land inventory for residential, industrial and commercial growth projections.

  14. Better planning in building an apartment complex would help, why not have a parking garage underneath the building? Change the building codes to allow higher structures then have 2 levels of parking, half subterranean and half street level.

  15. The story says this is a trend across the nation. Before we try it here, we should see how it works elsewhere. No need to learn from our own mistakes when we can learn from others.

    In the meantime, we should be expanding the amount of available land. As difficult as it is to get state approval for UGB expansion, this is something that should be aggressively pursued.

    1. She’s a victim’s rights attorney. We can only hope that she’s brainstorming her ideas with the City of Bend’s employees that are educated and experienced in urban planning.

  16. Suggesting and investigating additional ways to manage parking within urban boundary is a good idea. Expecting folks to change behavior to accomodate wishful thinking policy is not a good idea.

  17. To anyone that thinks that parking is not an issue they should try driving around some city streets after business hours in the evening the area by pilot Butte is so congested with cars it’s actually unsafe if you’re trying to get on Purcell. I understand building I understand growth and I understand the economics of it all but they have to come with plans to accommodate. All these apartment buildings can have 3 to 4 people in a two bedroom all with cars for a unit that has one parking space. Not fair to the taxpayers at all. Maybe growth is not the answer for bend. If people want to move let them buy a parcel of land and build their own home and follow all the construction requirements.

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