Oregon’s Parking Mandates Cut

It has happened that Oregon just slashed parking mandates. On Thursday the state approved the largest rollback to parking mandates in modern US history. The law gives the state board the power to set land use rules that, among other things, “minimize adverse social, economic, and environmental impacts and costs.”

After several rounds of delays to the reform timeline, the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) unanimously voted Thursday for the sooner of two deadlines for putting the new rules in place.

The new parking rules are part of a larger package called “Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities” that industry groups, including the Oregon Home Builders Association and Oregon Association of Realtors, oppose. Though those groups hadn’t singled out the parking reforms for much criticism, they objected to other parts of the package. Meanwhile, various cities have also objected, arguing that the new rules are too prescriptive and would take considerable resources to implement.

The state’s eight largest metro areas will have more flexibility in how to gradually make driving less necessary. Forty-eight cities and 5 counties representing about two-thirds of the state’s population are subject to the reforms. By the end of June 2023, the affected cities and urbanized unincorporated areas will need to choose from a branching menu of options on how to manage parking. In every case, jurisdictions will be able to comply simply by making off-street parking fully optional.

The unanimous vote by the state’s land use commission came through an unusual channel: an administrative action, ordered by the governor, that breathed new ambition into the broadly written land use laws that have gradually shaped Oregon for 50 years. It is being stated that two-thirds of Oregonians are about to experience the benefits of making more asphalt optional.