Wednesday, October 15, 2008

City May Lift Anti-Business Restrictions

For those that don't get the FLS, you might want to check the City Beat Blog and this article about the city's parking ordinances.

Background: If a new business wants to open up, or if an existing business expands, it quickly runs up against a rule that says the business has to provide parking, and gives a formula to calculate the number of spots. Anyone can see how this limits any sizeable business from locating downtown, and recently became a point of contention for a local bank. The formula does not account for the often vacant parking garage, or people's use of the public parking lots around the city. Add in that churches can't by-right use their parking lots as paid parking, they must go through the special use permit process, and things are 'tight' for parking.

So this month the city takes up discussions of changing the laws to be more business friendly. They ease the formula downtown, are talking about allowing businesses to pay a fee instead of providing spaces, and other edits to make downtown more enticing to entrepreneurs.

Can't wait to see what happens. I wonder if they would consider waiving the first paid-in-lieu parking spot if they provided a dozen bike rack spaces? I have only found a single bike rack downtown, and that's set back off the street for the apartments in the building.


kcw said...

why does there need to be anything regarding parking, fee or no fee? I just don't get it. The city is the city. Open a restaurant or store and offer your wares. What would a store be able to do to 'create parking'? It can't widen streets or elongate blocks.

If the intention is to ensure large stores don't get into downtown and never create their own parking, then write something for large stores. Don't couch it under 'everyone should ensure parking'.

I just don't get it at all. So instead of a new business opening up right in the thick of things, replacing a boarded up area, a new business will seek the situation that fits some parking rule the easiest so as not to pay a fine? And then suffer the consequences of being off the beaten path?

Bryan said...

KCW - good point about basically incentivising businesses outside of the Caroline/Princess Anne Corridoor, by making it more financially enticing to have more open areas.

I see what the city is trying to do with the paid-in-lieu portion, trying to build a fund to put toward future parking infrastructure. After just 100 paid spaces, the bank account should have half a million to put towards a second parking garage. That's about enough to think about a garage, it will take several million to really build another one, not to mention acquiring land somewhere.

Perhaps they should consider removing the requirement. At some time in the future, if we are serious about creating an inviting downtown, I believe the sidewalks are going to need to be widened. This will also reduce parking. Or take away potential spaces, so you can't penalize them more. Maybe my ideal downtown will end up on sophia st with the riverfront.

kcw said...

And how many years down the road until they actually get demand to justify a parking garage for a downtown crippled by parking fees?

I just see a catch 22 here. We want a parking garage so we don't have a parking issue so we put a fee on parking to ensure parking for customers for stores who can't open because of a parking fee resulting in not needing a parking garage for customer to get to stores that can't open due to a parking fee enacted to ensure parking and funding for a parking garage........

I've gone downtown with my family (two kids) numerous times and never had parking problems. Maybe I'm used to 'city' parking and don't expect to be able to grab 'rock-star parking'? Or perhaps I realize I can park closer to a downtown store than I can to almost any store in central park. I can walk the same distance from parking to Target that I can from parking to downtown store.

But because people see it as a downtown is it viewed differently in a parking perspective? Like people will want to park in a garage and walk all around in order to get to their destination?

I could see a garage's intention of housing the employers/employee of businesses to ease parking needs on streets. Now that makes sense. But if so, tax number of staff not number of needed spaces for imaginary customers. (who don't go downtown after 5pm on a weekday anyway because nothing is open, and don't get me started on Tuesday's).

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