Main parking lot to lose 40 spots

By Rachel Rippetoe | February 13, 2017 7:32am

main_parking_lot

The main parking lot will receive an aesthetic upgrade this summer, but it'll mean losing parking space.

by The Beacon / The Beacon

The University of Portland will lose 40 parking spots this summer, says Vice President of University Operations Jim Ravelli.

Lines of trees and a sidewalk will soon run across the main university parking lot near Chiles Center due to a city zoning code stating that sites with more than five parking spots require landscaping.

According to Portland City Planner Andy Gulizia, the University is required to install landscaping islands and trees within the main parking lot, and to plant additional new trees closer to the river by Sept. 1, 2018.

Ravelli said there will be four or five rows of trees spanning from the soccer field across the lot towards Mago Hunt and the Library. There will also be a sidewalk that will run through the center of the lot from Mago Hunt to the soccer box office. The renovations will result in a loss of around 40 parking spots.

Ravelli said the University is looking into ways to replace the spots in other places on campus. One way the University plans to mediate the strain on parking is through additional shuttle services down to the parking lot on River Campus.

“We know parking is obviously a problem on campus and this will put additional pressure on our parking,” Ravelli said. “So we’re trying to figure out if there are better ways for us to handle that. We’re looking pretty hard on how we can mitigate this the best we can.”

The upgrades have been on the University’s radar for over a decade. Gulizia said that it was a 2006 building permit to remodel the women’s locker rooms in Chiles Center that triggered the requirement. Once a property owner spends a certain amount of money on a site, they are required by city law to bring the site up to the current zoning standards. Parking lot landscaping has actually been a requirement since 1991.

University Operations Special Project Manager Jim Kuffner said the city would not issue the University a building permit in 2006 without bringing the main parking lot into compliance with the current landscaping standards. However, eventually they agreed to a five-year grace period that would relieve the University from having to upgrade.

When the five year grace period was up in 2011, UP petitioned again to delay the renovations — the city caved and the University was allowed another five years without having to remodel.

“In 2016 it finally all caught up to us and the city refused to give UP any further extensions or to issue any further building permits,” Kuffner said. “Not a good situation for us to be sure. We worked hard to negotiate a set of terms and conditions for compliance that we could live with and that the city would accept.”

The minimum parking landscaping requirement is one tree per 5,000 sq ft of parking area. UP’s main parking lot is approximately 150,000 sq ft, so at a minimum, 30 trees need to be planted on the site. However, Gulizia said UP applied for and got an exception to install fewer trees within the main parking lot than would usually be required. In turn, the University will have to plant more trees closer to the river.

The city requires landscaping standards for parking lots for several reasons: softening the aesthetic appearance of lots, reducing the rate of storm water runoff from vehicle areas and decreasing airborne and waterborne pollution.

However, Ravelli said one of the most important advantages is a decrease in temperature.

“This is really a city wide initiative,” Ravelli said. “It’s been going on for a long time and what they’re trying to do is mitigate a lot of reflected heat into the city. By putting trees in parking lots, you cool them down.”

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