Meet PRN Board Member Evan Manvel

Headshot photo of Evan Manvel, who is posed in front of a brick wall.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in Colorado, and my parents instilled civic engagement in me at an early age. I found myself particularly drawn to addressing climate disruption, which I find is the defining challenge of our generation. To address that challenge, I got a master’s degree in public policy and urban planning and spent many years as an advocate for transportation choices and thoughtful land use planning for some of the Northwest’s leading nonprofit organizations. After having kids, I moved to government and took a job with Oregon’s land use planning department. I now serve as a climate mitigation planner and have been leading the state’s work on parking reform, including our administrative rules requiring significant parking reform in 48 cities throughout our eight metropolitan areas.

How did you discover parking reform?

As someone who’s worked in land use and transportation choices for decades, I’m a bit sad it took me so long to realize how much urban land is devoted to car storage. But after doing many projects with local governments struggling with housing affordability, walkability, and how to make their downtowns work, and reading the fabulous work of Dr. Shoup and others, I became drawn to parking reform as a feasible and powerful tool. Taking our proverbial foot off the gas is key when we need to slam on the brakes on climate pollution. Compared to so many other plans that end up on the shelf due to lack of implementation funding, parking reform takes relatively few dollars and few hours, while having long-term and far-reaching impacts.

What’s the most important issue that parking impacts?

Climate disruption. It’s just agonizing to watch our collective failure to address the crisis. As we’ve dawdled, the chickens are coming home to roost. We have the hottest temperatures in 100,000 years. Thousands of people are dying, and people’s homes and livelihoods are being destroyed. Of course, beyond internalizing some of the costs of driving, parking reform has a host of co-benefits: neighborhoods that people can get around by walking and biking, housing more people can afford, equity improvements, community building, and more feasible and vibrant local businesses.

What special knowledge or skill do you bring to PRN?

As a former lobbyist and long-time advocate, I have a particular interest in how decision-makers come down on issues and how language and communications play into that. A few years ago, I wrote an article, “Lizard Brains on Planning,” inspired by the work of Daniel Kahneman and others. It played into my desire to shift the discussion away from the neutral and confusing “minimum parking requirements” to the clearer “costly parking mandates,” as well as other language shifts.

What’s a parking question you wish there were a study or research paper about?

I’ve always wanted polling and a few well-funded focus groups to test different framings of the parking reform messaging. While it’s been a question or two on a few polls, I’d love to do some more in-depth public opinion research on it. It seems younger voters and renters tend to get it, but I would love to build those numbers in some other demographics.

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