Is the city of Portland, abetted by developer-friendly activists, trying to abolish private automobiles? It certainly looks that way when you consider a report by mayor Charlie Hales’ planning department, a group styling itself Portland for Everyone and several informal groups.
A picture in a June pamphlet published by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability for the Residential Infill Project features a row of four “skinny” houses with driveways, two with cars. A second version of the picture shows the same houses with the cars and driveways photoshopped out.
The city doesn’t just make off-street parking vanish. The report allows no “front-loaded” garages at all.
Portland for Everyone is pretty much in accord with the city’s call for smaller houses, lower roofs and mostly shorter setbacks. It would go further to outlaw off-street parking. Its website urges us to “end stealth parking subsidies,” that off-street parking runs up the cost of housing and “tilts the scale toward automobile usage and away from forms of transportation that work better in cities.” Works better for whom?
Some of us have arthritis, or groceries or young children to carry. We don’t want to drive around the block to find a place to park.
Clearly the trend is away from cars. Presently in Portland there is less than one car per household. Perhaps in the future all will walk, ride a bicycle or use public transportation.
There are alternatives that address many of the points of the anti-car people. I have gotten permits for and presently am building a residence that addresses many issues raised:
- Do away with garages. Most people use their garages for storage rather than car shelter. I got an “exception” to my permit for a parking space in front of the house. Answering the charge that garage doors are ugly, my house will have a front window and no garage.
- Make driveways permeable, not concrete slabs. I am using an open concrete lattice.
- Group driveways for adjacent houses. A driveway has only to be nine feet wide. Adjacent houses could share a driveway that branches off to each neighboring house.
- Alleys that abut 15 percent of Portland lots. Cleaning and using them for car access would make neighborhoods more livable.
Bicyclists, walkers and bus riders have rights. They may be the wave of the future. But it shouldn’t be all at once.
We shouldn’t just slam the car door on private transportation.
Opinions expressed by these writers do not necessarily reflect the views of Concordia Neighborhood Association. Deadline is the 10th of the month prior to publication. Please contact CNewsEditor@ConcordiaPDX.org earlier to discuss space limitations.