A couple of weeks ago I noted that the city is undergoing a review of its 1989 Off Street Parking ordinance. The idea is to recognize some changes in the real estate market, especially having to do with entertainment and retail development in denser areas and the issue of neighborhood streets being used as overflow parking for commercial establishments. On Thursday, the city held a hearing on the proposals and got some feedback it has received before from bar and restaurant owners.
Bobby Heugel, also a co-owner at Anvil, told the Development and Regulatory Affairs Committee on Thursday that the proposal should include tiered parking requirements for different sizes of bars, as it does for different types of restaurants.
“Instead of one blanket approach, we could have different designations for a bar vs. a nightclub,” Heugel suggested. “If your nightclub exceeds 4,000 square feet, we could have different parking requirements and not damage the little guy.”
City officials say the proposed changes are designed partly to get parked cars off neighborhood streets.
“We receive a lot of complaints about bars not having enough parking,” said Suzy Hartgrove, spokeswoman for the Planning and Development Department.
I suspect a lot of those complaints come from folks in the vicinity of Washington Avenue. I sympathize with them, because a lot of those side streets are narrow and have drainage ditches, and when you fill them up with parked cars they become very difficult to navigate. It’s just that I think we need to be awfully careful about applying universal solutions in a big, diverse city with lots of different neighborhoods. Flexibility is the key. The Congress for New Urbanism posted a statement about the proposed changes that encourages more such flexibility for bike parking, and greater consideration of parking meters to deal with the neighborhood overflow issue. Why would a neighborhood want parking meters on their street? How about if you ensure that the revenue they generate goes to infrastructure improvements in that neighborhood? Use that money to do things like fill in the drainage ditches, build sidewalks, and bury the utility lines on Washington Avenue. One way or another, someone has to pay for parking. We may as well get something more than just parking for it, and there is such a thing as having too much of it. The Planning Commission will take this up again on December 1, and it will likely go to Council after that. CultureMap has more.