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.
"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.