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Re: [carfree_cities] Reducing Housing Costs by Rethinking Parking Requirements

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  • Chris Bradshaw
    I posted this to the worldcarshare group after the same item was posted. Chris Bradshaw Ottawa = = = = = = The unbundling of parking from housing is a very
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 10, 2001
      I posted this to the worldcarshare group after the same item was posted.

      Chris Bradshaw
      Ottawa

      = = = = = =

      The unbundling of parking from housing is a very important step, one
      that naturally comes out of the "transit-first" prioirty. [BTW, in
      Ottawa, I was part of a group that got the politicians to include the
      "green transportation hierarchy" into the 1997 plan, which puts walking
      first, cycling second, transit third, and private auto last (although
      they didn't agree to differentiate the first three explicitly, but did
      list them each time in the GTH order).]

      I was in SF this summer, and found that, as compact as most of the city
      is, the ubiquitous 3-4-storey row housing has the ground floor given
      over to a one/two-car garage, with only a narrow entrance way,
      presumably leading directly to a stairway to a second-floor entrance.
      One could
      not have a better example of the _design_ limitations imposed by parking
      requirements (even if, at the beginning, the requirement was only
      imposed by the "market" or banks). The effect is almost no people-
      presence at ground level: no garden, no veranda, no space to even stop
      and
      talk out of the paths of motorists. There obviously are cost
      implications, too.

      Here in Ottawa, Vrtucar is just about passed the 21-day waiting period
      after a major victory -- on our first try -- to get just such an
      "unbundling."

      A local developer has taken a proposal from our company that would
      _reduce parking demand_ for their 40-unit apartment project, rather than
      meet the demand that would otherwise (at least according to planners'
      formula) have occurred. The project will replace a 30-unit project that
      burned, and which had no parking. That means they only have to meet the
      parking "demand" for the 10 additional units, which they don't want to
      meet with on-site parking (five spaces, one-half space for each of the
      additional units).

      And rather than meet it with the parking-in-lieu charge of about $2,500
      each space (which goes into a "fund" for use by the city, m-a-y-b-e, to
      build a parking structure nearby at some time in the future), they
      submitted our proposal to pay that money into a Vrtucar trust fund, the
      interest of which would reduce the trip charges, for tenants who join,
      by 12%. Incidentally, we also said that, if the City were to contribute
      a street parking spot, we could reduce the rate another 10%.

      This mechanism, but never touching the $12,500 principal of the fund)
      will provide for reactivation of the P-I-L arrangement later on if too
      few tenants subscribe, a feature Vrtucar felt was necessary in order to
      get approval.

      Although staff opposed the proposal, the Committee of Adjustment (five
      citizens appointed by council), approved it, and directed the specific
      agreement to be part of the site-plan approval, to be executed in a
      couple of months.

      By reducing parking, we also reduce reduce _driving_ in this central
      area neighbourhood, and by having car-sharing "bundled" with the
      marketing
      of the building, we can offer car-sharing not just to the tenants of the
      10 extra units, but all forty. And, with a car in the area, we will
      stimulate demand from the existing neighbour base (and offer existing
      members in the area more convenient access).

      What is ironic about requiring off-street parking and its provision in
      close-to-the-street garages and laneways, is that each off-street spot
      reduces on-street parking by one spot, in order to guarantee access to
      the private spots. That actually _reduces_ parking in such an area
      since private spots are not available for those visiting the area (not
      even the host's spot, who is usually home at the time of the visit).
      Also, the reduced street parking frees up _driving_ space, both
      increasing speed and capacity for motorists' movements, reducing the
      security
      of walkers (many cyclists, unfortunately, think on-street parking is a
      threat to them, however).

      And, at the city scale, "squeezing" out parking will "squeeze" out
      congestion, since it will result in reduce ownership, which itself is
      the
      primary cause of road congestions. With widespread car-sharing, there
      are simply not enough cars in the city to cause congestion. Another way
      to look at it is to think of which is better: having congestion occur on
      the road, or at the point where the car keys are picked up?

      Chris Bradshaw
      Vrtucar, Ottawa
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