Gary Davenport was the first of 21 speakers to present (document attached) to the new City Council on January 10 in a meeting pertaining to the new Parking Study released by Joe Zehnder and BPS. Mr. Davenport told the City Council of some of the issues that Overlook has faced and some problems with City zoning and the BPS Parking Study. Following the presentations, Mayor Hales directed Joe Zehnder and BPS to come up with proposals in 1 month pertaining to providing minimal ratios for onsite parking in proposed ‘no parking apartments’, higher parking space to apartment unit ratios for those areas where several of the structures are congregating close to each other (like Richmond) and a new permitting program for neighborhoods close to new apartment structures similar to that proposed by Donald Strump in a recent Oregonian Editorial. (http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/01/portland_should_consider_overn.html)
Following is Mr. Davenport’s tesimony to City Council:
Hello, my name is Gary Davenport, and I represent Overlook Neighbors for Responsible Growth. I appreciate the opportunity to testify today.
The Parking Exception and Type II Design Review combo will soon cause irreparable harm to our neighborhoods. It ignores the uniqueness of our neighborhoods and uses an administrative checklist to remove all judgment and guesswork from the approval process. According to Joe Zehnder, the Parking Exception potentially affects over 70,000 of our city’s lots. Developers of these 30-50,000 SF structures avoid a complete design review because of a single footnote in a table that lets them opt out if any residential units are planned. The Contact with Neighborhood Requirement is a disaster. Immediately following a presentation by the developer, residents, often hearing of this for the first time, are expected to immediately set aside their shock and rage to come up with meaningful requests that a developer can then legally ignore. Developers, unwilling or afraid to face residents, frequently send their architects for the presentations instead. It’s no surprise that a few unscrupulous developers have jumped in to erect cheap no-parking apartments for the sole purpose of maximizing profit, all in the name of urban renewal.
In preparation for our meeting with the architect on Nov 1, we set aside our anger and frustration and drafted a positive vision of a no-parking apartment that might integrate into our neighborhood. We hoped the document might serve as a blueprint to help the city and other neighborhoods explore new solutions. We sent it to our developer, City Council, BPS and BDS. As we feared, our developer responded with a couple of small, minor adjustments, none of which addressed any of our main concerns.
In November, BPS released its Parking Study. It confirmed that about three quarters of tenants would own cars. As expected, BPS proposed no solutions and failed to address the impact on homeowners and businesses. The study spoke of how far a tenant might have to walk to get to their cars but made no attempt to quantify the impact these buildings and extra cars will have on the safety, traffic, character or livability of our neighborhoods. Despite overwhelming testimony in opposition to the study, the meeting closed with the planning commission saying that a moratorium was off the table and assurances that no significant changes would be made. The Oregonian got it right the next day responding to the commission with their lead editorial, “Damaging Portland’s Livability”.
Meanwhile, our clock is ticking. Our developer has submitted permit applications on December 2nd and is pushing hard for approval.
Neighborhoods continue to push forward: Richmond and Kerns have both filed LUBA lawsuits. LUBA is reviewing both cases and judgments will come soon. Beaumont and Overlook have each met with a land use attorney and are waiting to see if permits will be granted. Overlook has formally requested site visits from each of you and has been conducting site visits and interviews with the press.
All said, we remain hopeful that the new Council will work with us and move into the solution space. We ask you to immediately stop issuing permits to projects seeking the Parking Exception and work with us to find responsible interim solutions.
Any changes to no parking apartments pertaining to an onsite parking minimum will, unfortunately, likely apply only to new permit applications submitted following passage by City Council, not affecting permits already applied for (like Overlook). However, ONRG continues to look for other legal solutions.