City Considering New Rules Allowing Communities More Control Over Car Parking Requirements

Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/fellsrow/##Timothy Felsrow/Flickr##

As the city considers a proposal that would increase bicycle parking at new developments, a second progressive parking proposal is beginning to move through the public process.  This draft ordinance, available here, would allow for neighborhood parking districts to be created that would allow much greater flexibility for car parking requirements for new development.

The “Modified Parking Requirement District” (MPRD) ordinance creates tools that would allow neighborhoods to create custom parking districts.  To earn this designation, a district would have to be approved by an environmental review, the City Planning Commission and the City Council, assuming this draft ordinance even becomes law.  The first step to becoming law will be a hearing of the City Planning Commission in City Hall at 10:00 A.M. on April 28.  Traditionally, when Los Angeles tries to tinker with its parking policy the defenders of the status quo come out in full force.

Will Wright, the director of government affairs for the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles Chapter, sees value in the proposal.  “In effort to protect the diversity of our neighborhoods, additional planning tools are needed that will allow communities to have greater flexibility in determining the type of parking regulations they’d like to adopt.  In my opinion, the proposed MPRD ordinance will enable neighborhoods to select a parking typology that most effectively compliments their character and enhances their livability.”

Apparently the City Planning Department agrees.  In the draft ordinance’s F.A.Q., they criticize the “one size fits all” approach to parking requirements that the city currently has.  “A onesize- fits-all approach to parking and the City’s increasingly complex and location-specific parking problems necessitate that the City be able to regulate parking on a community basis. The MPR is intended to provide flexibility to address parking on a community basis by allowing one or more changes to the citywide parking standards within the district.”

If this ordinance passes, what changes could the city actually allow to local parking?  The draft ordinance lists some possibilities:

1. Decreased Parking Requirements: Recently expired CRA districts that had offered parking reductions to incentivize development can continue to provide reduced parking.
2. Increased Parking Requirements: Areas with an abundance of outdoor dining and limited street parking could benefit. Since the Zoning Code does not require parking for outdoor dining, this tool could exempt certain areas from that provision.
3. Off-site parking: Denser areas with ample public transit could benefit from allowing a use to provide parking across the street or down the block. Often projects cannot be built since smaller, irregularly shaped parcels cannot accommodate a building and its required parking.
4. Change of Use Parking Standards: Varying parking requirements for different uses can be an obstacle when one type of business is being replaced by another. Grandfathering in the existing parking for a new use would alleviate this problem.
5. Commercial Parking Credits: Areas with older buildings without off-street parking but ample on-street parking would benefit from the use of city-owned parking credits. Allowing business operators to use parking credits would allow new businesses to open more quickly.
6. Universal Valet: Popular nighttime destinations could benefit from regulated valet services.
7. Proximity to Municipal Garages: Areas that are located near public garages might require less parking for individual projects.
8. Parking Reduction Permit: Areas with ample transit could permit parking reductions for individual projects when they incorporate transportation alternatives.

As the ordinance moves forward, Streetsblog will continue to cover it and we’ll post a copy of the Planning Commission agenda when it is posted online.

6 thoughts on City Considering New Rules Allowing Communities More Control Over Car Parking Requirements

  1. This would be a huge win for DTLA. The most walkable, transit accessible neighborhood in all of Los Angeles, and we force every developer to build massive parking garages. We’re stifling development, discouraging transit use, and making the neighborhood less ped friendly with each garage that goes up. These new rules can’t get passed fast enough.

  2. This ordinance reveals the true state of affairs of parking regulation and the fallacy of creating “better” regulations. The City is trying to invent a better hammer when what is needed is a screwdriver. Effective pricing would achieve just about every one of these goals more efficiently and at a lower cost to local businesses. What is needed is to challenge the pseudo-science that there is a “correct” amount of parking for every possible commercial use, decouple parking from the costs of opening a business, and set prices based on desired occupancy and turnover.

    Paging Donald Shoup!

    I’m generally in favor of devolving control to the most local level possible, but Neighborhood Councils aren’t exactly the best informed group of people you can find. Remember that minimum parking requirements arose to spare residential areas from having to cope with parking overflow from commercial areas. Neighborhood groups are exactly the people in favor of GREATER minimum parking requirements to mitigate parking “impacts” (whatever that means) from nearby commercial development. Not exactly the people you want setting policy, except for maybe the most progressive councils.

    I’d be far less skeptical if parking policy was set by local business groups that are both directly dependent on good policy and pay the costs of providing that parking. As Shoup recommends, returning meter revenue to local improvements provides an incentive for neighborhood groups to get it right.

  3. The only problem with this ordinance is that the possible categories include increasing parking requirements. There is a perception by some people/neighborhoods that they have a ‘parking problem’ which equates to people believing there isn’t enough parking available. This is a fallacy. The ordinance recognizes that the parking requirements are a burden and should only provide flexibility in the direction of reducing the requirements, not increasing them.

    And yes, Donald Shoup has seen this. We had the option to review it during his Parking course last quarter.

  4. But the greatest challenge our society faces is a potential shortage of free parking in some areas on the Friday after Thanksgiving. We need to spend increasing amounts government money building taller and deeper parking structures.

  5. Uniform parking requirements are like uniform density requirements. What works in Korea Town doesn’t work in West Hills.

    This appears to be a step toward rationalizing parking policy, but there are many more steps to go. I would propose that the city take neighborhood parking management a step further – the revenues generated by fees for public parking can only be used in the parking management district in which they were collected. Then we’ll see how quickly neighborhood stakeholders abandon their “more free parking” rhetoric when they can no longer use other people’s money. Where parking is $4/hour downtown, there would be more funds for street maintenance functions currently carried out by the DTLA Center BID.

  6. These ideas are short sighted. One example… Decreasing parking requirements does not encourage or force bike riding and use of public transportation. Once development occurs with inadequate parking it cannot be reversed without huge compensation to the property owners with tax dollars. Without proper parking requirements a community will decay over time. Real Estate fashions change with time and technology. Just a generation ago the San Fernando Valley was covered with orange groves and little housing. The garment district is and has been in flux with the goal of revitalization. One size fits all allows room for improvement within communities over time. 

    Let those with experience and an education in planning improve all of Los Angeles parking requirements. Let us avoid the temptation of short sighted pressure from small factions in local areas. Avoid the revenue scams of local politicians creating a patchwork of rules to confuse and fine.

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