In our first two posts (Part 1 and Part 2), we discussed current approaches used by many communities to regulate parking, factors contributing to those approaches, and how those approaches are not sustainable because they consume large amounts of space and money.  Great anecdotal evidence of what we described is provided annually in a post from “Strong Towns” titled “The Best of #BlackFridayParking.”  It is worth a look.

In this, our third and final post, we discuss a few solutions communities, especially those seeking to encourage and support mixed use reuse, infill and redevelopment projects, may wish to consider when “right-sizing” their parking regulations.  In order to gauge impacts and determine the success of the parking solutions, we suggest limiting the following solutions by area (e.g., parcels, blocks or neighborhoods) or zoning district:

  • Use Accepted Parking Studies – Consider revising parking standards using resources developed by the Institute of Transportation Engineers, Urban Land Institute or other respected national transportation, planning and real estate development organizations. Generally, these resources are based on actual “in the field” parking studies.  Additionally, consider allowing applicants to submit parking studies using objective criteria and standards, justifying permitted parking reductions.
  • Disregard Fractional Numbers – Where a fractional parking space results from calculating the required number of parking spaces, rather than requiring applicants to round up to the next whole number, consider allowing applicants to round down and disregard any fractional number.
  • Shared Parking – For developments proposing a mixture of uses with differing peak parking times, consider permitting such uses to share parking spaces. This provision could apply to uses located on the same lot or in close proximity to adjacent lots within a certain distance (e.g., 600’ or one-quarter mile) and located in the same zoning district, connected by public sidewalks or pedestrian pathways.  Agreements typically ensure such parking spaces are provided for such uses.
  • On-Street Parking – Rather than requiring all parking spaces to be located in off-street lots, where conditions permit (i.e., no physical obstructions or prohibitions), consider allowing on-street parking spaces located in the street right-of-way along the lot frontage to be counted toward the minimum number of parking spaces. Generally, one on-street parking space equals 22 feet of lot frontage.
  • Reducing or Eliminating Parking Requirements – Consider reducing or eliminating the required number of parking spaces for certain developments in close proximity (e.g., 600’ or one-quarter mile) and connected by public sidewalks or pedestrian pathways to:
    • Established public transit routes; and/or
    • Public parking lots or private parking lots open to the public.
  • Bicycle Parking – Consider allowing a reduction in the number of off-street motor vehicle parking spaces for developments proposing a certain number of bicycle parking spaces.
  • Parking Deficiency, Change of Use – Where a pre-existing use includes a lesser number of parking spaces than would be required under the current regulations, consider allowing the parking space deficit to be “grandfathered” for a new use. For example, if an office is four parking spaces short of the seven spaces required by the zoning ordinance, and is replaced by a retail store that is required to provide ten spaces, consider allowing the four-space deficit to be grandfathered in such that the retail store is required to provide a total of just six spaces.
  • Parking Deficiency, Expansion of Existing Use – Consider regulations that do not require applicants to provide additional parking spaces for situations where an existing use expands by a specific defined aggregate total (e.g., 25% of floor area) beyond that which existed when the parking requirements were adopted.

As previously explained, the changes discussed above do not need to apply to the entire community.  Rather, they could apply to certain zoning districts or to a new a zoning overlay within which the community determines existing parking is excessive.  To reclaim your community’s lost paradise, consider “right-sizing” parking requirements to reflect a more sustainable approach.

Please feel free to contact any member of the McNees Wallace & Nurick Land Use Group for assistance with any land use or development issues and/or if you have any questions regarding this post.