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City of Houston reviewing off-street parking ordinance

Public input sought

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The City of Houston Planning & Development Department is preparing to review its off-street parking ordinance, which has hardly been changed since its adoption in 1989, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Houston Politics blog.

The department will hold three public meetings over the next three weeks to seek public input on the ordinance. The meetings will be held in the late afternoon on April 7, April 14, and April 21. Comments may also be emailed to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The department’s press release states:

Some of the topics that will be discussed include but are not limited to shared parking, parking management areas, types of occupancy and intensity of use (i.e. bars, types of restaurants, etc.), parking incentives for development along transit corridors or for restoration of historic buildings, lifts and valet parking just to name a few.

The ordinance mandates minimum numbers of parking spaces for practically every building in Houston. For instance, apartment complexes are required to provide 1.25 parking spaces for every efficiency unit, 1.333 spaces for every one-bedroom unit, 1.666 spaces per two-bedroom unit, and 2.0 spaces for every apartment with three or more bedrooms.

The rules are very detailed, providing different guidelines for offices, residences, bars, restaurants, churches, schools, supermarkets, and warehouses, among others. The ordinance even specifically dictates how many parking spaces must be provided at veterinary clinics (5 spaces for every 1,000 square feet of useable floor area), bowling alleys (5 spaces per bowling lane), funeral homes (0.5 spaces per chapel seat), and barber shops (3 spaces for every operator chair and one space per employee).

The Chronicle notes:

Houston’s urban landscape has changed dramatically since the parking ordinance was adopted in 1989. The area inside Loop 610 has grown much denser, clogging streets in some neighborhoods with the cars of all the new residents and their guests.

At the same time, leaders of efforts to redevelop neighborhoods like Midtown in a more urban style say strict parking requirements and other regulations have hindered their efforts.

For instance, Midtown has become much more pedestrian-friendly in the last 15 years, particularly since the Main Street light rail line opened, but its businesses and residences are still required to provide plenty of off-street parking. The excess parking spaces are not only unnecessary, but they also impede pedestrians.

Keep Houston Houston thinks that the parking regulations have also prevented transit-oriented development in Midtown, and argues that the district “should be given a “special exemption” from any and all parking [regulations]. Period.” NeoHouston believes that new surface parking lots should be prohibited in the city’s major urban areas, and that parking garages should have a ground floor use such as retail space that fronts onto the sidewalk.

The parking ordinance review appears to be the latest attempt to update the city’s outdated planning codes. Last year, the Houston City Council unanimously approved a transit corridors ordinance designed to encourage more pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented development along the city’s planned light rail lines. City officials have also discussed extending the city’s “urban” boundary from the 610 Loop to the Beltway, which would affect minimum lot sizes, driveways, and guest parking, among other things.

City of Houston Off-Street Parking and Loading ordinance (Chapter 26, Article VIII of the city’s Code of Ordinances)

(Photo credit: Elf)

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Comments

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said:

I’m all for walkable design, especially around transit-rich areas.  I hope to see more of it across Houston and the USA.  However, I also prefer to drive to places like Home Depot.  So we can’t go too far one way or the other w.r.t. parking regulations.  This topic deserves intelligent debate and discussion; I’m glad the city is interacting with the public on the matter.

Posted on Apr 01, 10 at 2:30 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said:

Anything to get the cars from clogging up the streets and making driving in Midtown impossible.

Posted on Jun 26, 11 at 8:32 am

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