Parking review coming

This ought to be interesting.

The Department of Planning and Development has scheduled three community meetings in April to hear ideas about possible changes in the city’s parking ordinance, which has been modified only slightly since it was adopted in 1989.

From the department’s press release:

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 meetings will be from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. April 7 at Havens Center, 1827 W. Alabama; from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. April 14 at the Judson Robinson Jr. Community Center, 2020 Hermann Drive; and from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. April 21 at the United Way of Greater Houston, 50 Waugh Drive.

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.

“We’ve got to take a look at the ordinance and make it more relevant to today,” the city planning director, Marlene Gafrick, told me.

Parking requirements were not a part of the recent urban corridors ordinance, though there’s clearly a tight connection between the two. It’s good to see this being dealt with now, but it probably should have been part of the earlier discussion. Houston Tomorrow has more.

On a side note, the city of San Francisco recently completed a census of its parking spaces.

Over the last 18 months, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) has tallied every publicly accessible parking space within city limits, including free and metered spaces on-street and every publicly accessible garage [PDF map].

The total number of spaces, as Mayor Gavin Newsom recently announced on his Youtube site, is 441,541. Of the total, over 280,000 are on-street spaces, 25,000 of which are metered. For just the on-street spaces, that is roughly the equivalent area of Golden Gate Park.

I can only imagine what that number would be for Houston. It would be a heck of a challenge just to enumerate downtown’s parking capacity. Of course, San Francisco is a more transit-oriented city than Houston, and as such they need fewer parking spaces per capita. I hope that as Houston contemplates changes to its parking requirements, it takes into account what Houston’s transit system will look like a few years down the line. Yes, I know, that is still up in the air to an uncomfortable degree, but we should assume there will be a more robust system in a few years’ time than there is now, and ideally we will also consider what is yet to come beyond what we’re doing now.

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