Western States Pondering New Parking Ratios for Housing

According to a recent article in the Columbian, Oregon and California are considering serious changes to requirements on parking ratios in urban areas. Our southern neighbor seems to be leading the charge. At this point Washington appears to be a spectator in the debate. This concept however could lead to lower cost housing for those willing to forego the car or at least to share a car between multiple residents.

Locally the commission charged with oversight for the new Interstate Bridge project has approved rail transit connecting Downtown Vancouver with Portland’s MAX light rail system. This will extend the Interstate Transit Corridor into Vancouver and allow for high density development with fewer parking spaces to actually work.

But there is more to it than that. Downtown Vancouver still lacks some essential services in the core. Although New Seasons is erecting a supermarket in Midtown at 15th and Main, that is still quite a long walk for those living in lower Downtown and on the Waterfront. The city would need to fast track developers that are willing to bring in the services that remain outside a comfortable walking distance and perhaps create a Downtown/Uptown trolley either on rails or wheels. All of this could be done to support more urban housing in the city center and less dependence on cars.

It is good to see the government at least looking at alternatives and that is a good thing. It is also important to remember that there is only a small segment of our population that is willing to give up the independence of the automobile. I could see a thriving share-rental system in large buildings with say a dozen cars that belong to the landlord or HOA and can be “borrowed” by residents for those occasions when they need to travel where public transit is unavailable or extremely inconvenient. It will be interesting to see what becomes of these ideas.

While I am on the subject of transit and the new bridge; I can’t say it enough, our leaders need to insist that the new bridge have some aesthetic accoutrements to keep the entrance to our great city beautiful. The city and county also need to put their foot down on Tri-Met and insure that our public transit entity(s) dictate the policies on MAX on our side of the river. Stepping off the soapbox now 😉

Condo activity continues to accelerate with inventory gains outpacing new pending sales. The shift is healthy and at this point not alarming.

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