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City Looking for Feedback on New Short North Parking Rules

Brent Warren Brent Warren City Looking for Feedback on New Short North Parking RulesPhoto by Walker Evans
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The City of Columbus is moving forward with at least one of the recommendations from its wide-ranging Short North Parking Study. The study, completed more than two years ago, called for a variety of strategies aimed at simplifying parking restrictions and ensuring that visitors, residents and employees in the district continue to have parking options, even as development activity ramps up significantly.

The new proposal calls for a standard set of parking requirements for any new development within the boundaries of what would be called the Short North Special Parking Area (which consists of all of Italian Village and most of Victorian Village). Any developer not meeting those requirements would pay a fee — for residential projects, the fee would be $20,000 per space not provided; for non-residential projects, it would be $10,000 per space.

short-north-parking-map

Art galleries, small retail businesses (under 2,500 square feet), and single family homes would be exempted from the requirements.

Funds received from the fees would be earmarked for the neighborhood and “primarily used to address parking supply and mobility issues,” according to information provided by the city.

The city’s website further explains the thinking behind the proposal:

The purpose of the in-lieu fee is to establish a process to effectively manage parking when residential and non-residential developments do not satisfy the parking requirements within the special parking area. Creating a special parking area and in-lieu process was a key recommendation in developing alternative options to handle parking issues, encourage alternate modes of transportation and create a process to manage parking variances while promoting economic development.

A public hearing, convened by City Council members Shannon Hardin and Jaiza Page, has been scheduled to provide information and gather feedback on the new rules. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 10th at 5:30pm at the Goodale Park Shelter House.

For more information, see www.columbus.gov.

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  • chupicabraz

    The parking minimums for the district are currently 1.5 spaces per unit. Think about that: A 20 unit apartment building would need 30 parking spaces.
    Parking spaces take up (with a circulation factor) 550-600 sf per spot, so to plan a 30-space garage would need over 18,000 SF of space dedicated towards vehicles. An average unit in this area (say a 1-BR is approx. 850-900 SF.
    So you only spend a little more square footage on the rentable living space than you do on the car-hole.
    Developers often cite the $20,000 number as what it costs them to develop a spot excavation, construction, etc. Charging this sum will encourage developers to
    A) look elsewhere in the city for development.
    B) ensure that any new development is car oriented.
    C) provide lower density developments with ample surface parking to avoid the fees charged for not meeting the minimums.

    All of this will, if enacted shift development from SN-IV-VV to other parts of the city.
    I’m less sure that this will have any substantive impact on the ability for residents to find a parking spot or to alleviate traffic congestion.

    • http://www.columbusunderground.com Walker Evans

      I don’t think A) is a bad scenario necessarily. I’d love to see some more attention given to areas like Milo Grogan and The KLD.

      B) and C) are obviously terrible scenarios, and I don’t think the VV or IV Commissions would necessarily approve anything in either of those camps.

    • Whopper Jr

      I interpret the $20K payment in lieu of parking as a chance to build additional units instead of additional parking. The following scenarios use your example of building 20 apt units and 30 parking spaces, or building 40 apt units and 0 parking spaces. The developer has to figure out the right ratio of necessary parking spaces to support occupancy of the apt units, which is likely somewhere in between the two scenarios.
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8cea4584b3473171f689421a8239cf7eeacec4cd2730215cb5b22db24048dfc0.jpg

      • jjsmith24

        There are some bad assumptions here. Current parking “minimums” are frequently overridden with zoning variances. The new rules encourage developers to follow the updated parking requirements instead of seeking a zoning variance. If that is not possible because of the urban constraints of the site, there is will be a way to pay a fee that will ultimately benefit the neighborhood and still allow appropriate development. Developers will not be able to simply buy their way out of all parking per the new rules. The entire area is in an architectural review zone with their own guidelines so developers will not able to simply add vasts amount of surface lots

    • Columbusite

      Part of the proposal is a reduction in the parking minimums. I feel better now.

  • Columbusite

    I’m not sure about this plan. Isn’t the $20,000 per space fee about what it costs to provide garage parking? So in effect they have made it so that developers cannot get around the parking minimums. As someone who is generally against parking minimums, I think there is likely a better approach. When I hear people talk about what makes the Short North great, they don’t talk about parking. People who love parking are probably going to live somewhere else. People like the Short North because of its density and walkability, and this plan will not contribute to that. I would also like to hear more detail about what they are going to use the money for. Public parking garages? Public transit? Hopefully the latter.

    • chupicabraz

      You are right on. This is a round-about way to eliminate the discretion of the VV / IV commissions to ensure that parking minimums are met. Get ready for a new “Garage district”

    • ED

      I like the approach but the fee does seem high.

  • MobileHarv

    Instead of penalizing developers for creating high-density properties that support walkability and bikeability, how about improving public transit? The best way to solve the parking “problem” in the Short North is to give people other ways to get there besides driving.

    • LegalEagle89

      I like how ‘problem’ is in quotes like the upcoming meeting and this article is discussing a made-up issue.

    • ED

      In-lieu fees aren’t typically viewed as penalties, it’s likely the development community is supportive of the flexibility.

  • thefrog1394

    This sounds incredibly short sighted. With the advent of Uber, and soon self-driving cars, encouraging significant parking in dense urban areas is just silly. There is nothing wrong with people to using public transit, uber, or bicycles to get to the short north. This type of legislated-in requirement for cities to be car friendly even in areas where the private sector has determined it isn’t necessary is what holds back alternative transit in cities like Columbus.

    • LegalEagle89

      The concept of Uber has been around for awhile (taxis) so I do not blame local gov’t or developers for continuing to accommodate vehicles, especially in a city as sprawled as Columbus. Columbus is not dense enough to start thinking about living here without a vehicle, in my opinion. Also, yes Columbus is behind in public transit, little doubt about that, but that cannot be the sole solution here. We need elevated City rail so, so badly.

      • Columbusite

        Columbus will not become dense either, if they require parking on every project. The market is demanding more walkable development, and the city shouldn’t be standing in the way.

  • LegalEagle89

    Easy. Projects should not be approved if the project makes the parking situation worse or can’t properly accommodate the added volume. Period. End of discussion. Frustrating for the Developer that doesn’t have to live in it? Do not care.

  • Columbusite

    The Dispatch article makes it seem like most residents at the meeting think it should go further to require parking. I guess there will always be people in favor of more parking. I just don’t think any amount of rules is going to change the fact that in a dense urban neighborhood, it is more difficult and less necessary to use a car.

  • ED

    The in-lieu fee is a good approach. Minimum parking requirements do not allow for publicly-shared spaces in lots/garages to count and I’m assuming the in-lieu fee will go towards building shared parking rather than thinking every business will have all of the parking they need on their own at their own peak use time, which is not how cities actually work.

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