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A Guide to Oregon's Big Parking Reform

December 9, 2022
Authors: Catie Gould, Researcher
Publishers: HFO Apartment Investor Newsletter | 2022

by Catie Gould, Researcher, Sightline Institute

The new year will present more opportunities for multifamily housing construction in Oregon, thanks to a major rollback of local minimum parking requirements across the state. Starting on January 1st, developers will gain the flexibility in 51 Oregon cities and counties to determine what parking ratio is appropriate for their unique project.

Many of these reforms to parking mandates, the farthest-reaching in modern U.S. history, are set to take effect on January 1st whether or not the affected jurisdictions have updated local zoning codes to reflect them.

The new rules, adopted by the state Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) in July, included a broad range of land use and transportation planning regulations to legalize more climate-friendly development if people want to build it. 

The change will prevent situations like a recent case in Troutdale, where an affordable housing developer has been blocked from adding 94 new housing units to the area. Despite presenting parking demand studies of five similar developments nearby, the city denied their request to lower the multifamily parking requirement from two parking spots per unit to 1.4 spaces. A redesign to accommodate more surface parking was estimated to add $500,000 and a three-to-four-month delay to the project. That same project will be legal in January when the first phase of the parking-related rules goes into effect. More changes to parking regulations will be coming through June 2023, absent extensions approved by the LCDC.

The state rules will apply within the borders of the state’s eight Metropolitan Planning Organizations, including urbanized parts of Clackamas, Marion, and Washington counties, comprising two-thirds of Oregon’s population. A few places in Oregon, like the Tigard Triangle and downtown Salem and Eugene, have already lifted parking requirements in an effort to attract more development. The Tigard area has welcomed several mixed-use projects to the area since loosening its zoning code and striking parking requirements in 2017.

Changes effective January 2023
Development applications submitted after Dec 31st, 2022, will no longer be required to provide off-street parking in the following instances:

  • Residential units smaller than 750 square feet
  • Regulated affordable and publicly supported housing
  • Single-room-occupancy housingAll development within 0.5 miles of a frequent transit corridor with service every 15 minutes during peak hour, or in cities with less transit frequency: transit corridors with service once per hour at peak.
  • All development within 0.25 miles of a rail transit stop.
  • Other equity-related uses including childcare facilities, housing for people with disabilities, and emergency shelters.

Additionally, local jurisdictions will be prohibited from requiring more than one parking space per unit for any multifamily development on a single lot, regardless of other factors.

Outlook for therest of 2023
The rules have other provisions that will ensure new parking lots are ready to adapt to climate change and a transition to electric vehicles. By April 1, 2023, multifamily buildings with five or more units will need to provide an electrical conduit to serve at least 40% of any off-street parking spaces built (up from 20% today).
Cities have three options to comply with the full suite of parking regulations by June 30, 2023. Some will likely choose the first option — eliminating parking requirements citywide — which is the simplest to implement.
In cities that do choose to retain off-street parking requirements in more situations, off-street parking will be required to be unbundled from rent for multifamily buildings near frequent transit, or in designated climate-friendly areas. 
Regardless of the jurisdiction, new surface parking lots larger than a quarter acre will also be subject to requirements for tree coverage or solar panels somewhere on the property after June 30th, with an option to pay an in-lieu-of fee. 

Legal Challenges Ahead
The election of Tina Kotek as Oregon’s next governor makes it highly unlikely the rules will be reversed by the next administration, though it is possible the state legislature could undo parts of the rules through legislation. Fourteen jurisdictions have jointly filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming that LCDC overstepped its statutory authority. Unless a stay of the rules is granted while the lawsuit awaits judicial review, implementation is still moving forward as scheduled. If a developer thinks their permit was illegally denied over parking, they can appeal to the Land Use Board of Appeals. 
Oregon Measure 49 may also offer some financial compensation to any property owners whose residentially zoned land falls in value as a result of these rules or would fall in value as a result of their potential future reversal. Making such a claim to the state relies on having a written appraisal of the property’s value one year before a regulatory change might take effect. The appraisal must show that the regulatory change reduced the property’s fair market value if developed to its “highest and best use.”

For more information, visit 

Catie Gould can be reached at or by phone at 206-447-1880 extension 123.

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