From Portland Afoot
The cost of auto parking is an underappreciated cost of driving and one of the biggest incentives for drivers to use bicycles, carpools or mass transit. If auto parking is offered for free, it's one of the largest subsidies for auto drivers.
 Frequent subsidy for driving
Because parking lots, garages and spaces require valuable real estate, free parking is essentially a subsidy for auto drivers provided by the government (which buys, builds and maintains free street parking in most of the United States) or by businesses (which often buy, build and maintain free parking lots used only by car drivers).
Moreover, the effect of auto parking, especially surface auto parking, is to reduce the number of commercial uses that can happen in a given area, because so much land needs to be set aside for storing automobiles. This makes areas less walkable, making destinations unpleasant or arduous to reach by public transit, foot or bike.
 Auto parking requirements in Portland
Because on-street parking is free in most of the City of Portland, the city maintains minimum on-site parking requirements for almost all residential zones and many employment zones. However, city code -- 33.266.110 is the relevant section -- offers various exceptions, notably a total waiver for all property within 500 feet (about two city blocks) of a frequent service transit line. In addition, there are no minimum parking requirements within the Central City Plan District.
 Zones with minimum parking requirements
As of May 2011, Portland's zones with minimum parking requirements are:
- RF (residential farm and forest)
- R20, R10, R7, R5, R2.5, R3, R2, and R1 (residential with minimum lot sizes corresponding to their numeral, in thousands -- for example, R2.5 allows one unit per 2,500 square feet)
- RH (high density residential), unless there are only 1 to 3 units involved
- IR (institutional residential)
- CN2 (neighborhood commercial 2)
- CO2 (office commercial 2)
- CG (general commercial)
- EG (general employment)
- I (industrial)
At the time, Portland required at least one auto parking space per unit for household living anywhere except the city center or in high-density residential zones with fewer than four units.
 Zones without minimum parking requirements
There are no minimum parking requirements in these Portland zones:
- EX (central employment), except for household living properties
- CX (central commercial)
- RX (central residential)
- CN1 (neighborhood commercial 1)
- CO1 (office commercial 1)
- CS (storefront commercial)
- CM (mixed commercial-residential)
- Within the Central City Plan District. Plan District regulations supersede base zone regulations.
 Exceptions to minimum parking requirements
A property is exempt from providing on-site auto parking if it is within 500 feet of a frequent service bus line or other transit line with headways of no more than 20 minutes during peak hours, or if it is located with in the Central City Plan District.
Developments can also reduce their parking requirements by:
- sharing a lot with a business that operates at different hours;
- providing bicycle parking, which can substitute for up to 25% of auto parking spaces;
- providing motorcycle parking, which can substitute for 5 spaces or up to 5% of required auto parking, whichever is less;
- for large sites with more than 20 required parking spaces, providing a transit plaza, which can substitute for up to 10% of required parking spaces.
As of fall 2012, some neighborhood residents have responded to a boom in the construction of no-parking apartments by urging the city to change this rule.
 Maximum parking requirements
All Portland zones have maximum auto parking requirements, spelled out by Portland City Code 33.266.115.
 See also
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