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

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.