Rex Burkholder
  • Rex Burkholder

Former Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder — who departed the body this year because of term limits — hasn't been shy in his criticisms of new parking requirements city council will take up April 4.

He testified at a meeting of the city's Planning and Sustainability Commission earlier this month — part of a minority urging caution on any new rules.

"Are we rushing into something that we may regret?" he asked.

Now, in light of the near-daily changes that have shaped the fate of a controversial development at SE Division Street and 37th Avenue, Burkholder's weighing in again.

"The new mayor, Charlie Hales, seems to be stampeded into responding to the concerns of a small, vocal group of protectionists, rather than supporting a deliberate, thoughtful approach to accommodating cars in the city," Burkholder wrote on his blog today. "Particularly troubling are comments from some Councilors and one member of the Planning and Sustainable Development Commission that “real” families can’t live in housing without off-street parking."

The debate over how the city should allow for parking with new development — and whether it should do that at all — has been building over the last year, but has reached a new fervor in the last week. After a ruling of the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals stalled the 37th Avenue project last month, Portland planners said its backers would have to apply for fresh permits to move forward. The Bureau of Development Services quietly changed it's mind on that last week, allowing developers to simply amend a former application and avoid a public hearing.

Neighbors and city commissioners loudly took exception, and Hales' backed off, announcing the project would need a fresh application after all.

The timing of this process is important, since it might determine whether the 81-unit building will be subject to any new parking requirements council enacts.