Development/parking scenarios tested (Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability)

Here’s some interesting new research from Portland, Oregon where they have been thoroughly investigating the role of parking policy in relation to housing affordability, neighbourhood impacts, and car ownership. This useful report, Cost of Onsite Parking + Impacts on Affordability (PDF), identifies the costs associated with providing various types of car parking for a mixed use project. Specifically, the report tested a property size of 950m2 that might be located on busier streets in zones where the City is trying to encourage more dense development and avoid fostering a “strip commercial  appearance”. Below are the parking costs they came up with for this development scenario.

Costs of parking (Source: Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability)

Of course parking is not only a building cost, but an opportunity cost. According to the study,  a building with surface parking is only able to utilize 50% of the site’s development capacity. In the development scenario tested only 30 units could be constructed if combined with 19 surface parking spaces, compared to 50 units in a “No Parking” scenario.

And something that was mentioned earlier here, the costs of rent are significantly reduced without the provision of parking- $800/month compared to $1,200/month. See below for the range of disadvantages parking causes.

“As the cost to produce additional parking spaces becomes greater than the cost of the units not produced, rental rates rise. Similarly, as the number of units decreases within a project, project costs are distributed in greater proportion to renters.”

Parking and rental rates (Source: Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability)

The above numbers tell an important story. Parking is a significant cost in the development process, one that not only raises costs of housing, but I believe also is an impediment  to development overall. How much land in well-located, transit-accessible places sits empty because of parking requirements? Also, how much of our desired urban design outcomes, for example mixed use development along Great North Road, is simply uneconomical due to current parking requirements?

It’s impressive that the City of Portland is being proactive on yet another urban planning front. And if the leadership from Portland isn’t enough to convince you to book a one-way ticket to Stumptown, here are some switched-on Portlanders talk about housing and parking policy. I wonder when we will see this sort of formalised advocacy for housing options in Auckland?

Joseph Edge, Pearl neighborhood: “Neighbors just don’t realize when they’re coming to these meetings – they’re saying, ‘You’re making it difficult for me to find a place to park.’ Well, you’re making it difficult for someone to find a place to live.”

Justin Buri, Community Alliance of Tenants: “Portland is taking on more residents, and unless we build more apartments, the rent is going to be outrageous. … For some people, parking is necessary – probably not everybody. … That’s really what’s on the table: do you want more parking, or do you want more places for people to live?”

Megan Gibb, TOD manager for Metro“If you do have a garage or driveway, then what are you worried about? And if you don’t have a garage or driveway, then why should you be allowed to park there when somebody else is not allowed to be?”

Share this


  1. I’d like to see the same table with one and two parks per unit under each option, and compare that to the no parking option. I.e what would a minimum parking requirement really do to the cost?

    1. I downloaded the software they used. Would be good to test it. I have a feeling it wouldn’t pencil out. Hence the used car lots.

  2. Given the link the name of the above commenter goes to is a commercial site in Aussie, yet the poster profile puts her in the Sates, it looks spammy. That’s dodgy SEO for you.

Leave a Reply