City may drop law that new Downtown/OTR buildings include parking | Politics
CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls is proposing to replace the city’s minimum parking requirements for new buildings in Downtown and Over-the-Rhine.
Qualls has introduced a motion to do that which is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Laure Quinlivan, Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson, Cecil Thomas and Wendell Young, making for a 2/3 council majority from the sponsors alone.
The motion would replace the old rule with what Qualls calls a market-based approach that will reduce costs for developers and residents, foster mixed-used development, preserve neighborhood character and support transit and walking.
“Parking requirements add significantly to the cost of development and in some cases result in the destruction of historic buildings to create parking lots,” Qualls said. “They’re a major obstacle to the kind of walkable, dense, mixed-use development that draws people to a healthy downtown.” Qualls says Nashville, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Tacoma and other cities have eliminated parking minimums because they increase the cost of housing. Excess parking also takes up space that could be used for commercial and residential development.
“Cities are recognizing that allowing the market to function will produce a better result. If a developer wants to build an 800-room hotel without providing any parking, that’s probably not going to meet the demands of the market. But if a developer can sell or rent his units without meeting minimum parking requirements, then there is no need for them,” Qualls said.
The city currently requires one parking space per residential unit in the downtown development district and in Over-the-Rhine. Depending on the location, developers address this requirement either by building structured parking or purchasing additional land for a surface parking lot – sometimes demolishing buildings to provide parking.
Parking requirements for residential, commercial and retail development significantly increase the cost of development by requiring developers to purchase additional land for parking or include parking in the structure of a new building. Both significantly add to the cost of development and in some cases result in the destruction of historic structures in order to create parking lots. The cost is passed on to consumers, making urban living or starting a small business more expensive. And minimum off-street parking requirements for new buildings constructed downtown lead to decreased downtown density with large amounts of land devoted to parking lots.
According to Chad Munitz, 3CDC’s executive vice president of development and operations, on average, the cost to the developer is $5,000 for one surface parking space and $25,000 for a structured parking space. That cost is then passed on to the consumer, raising the price of a residential unit by as much as $25,000.
Downtown Cincinnati Inc.’s most recent quarterly Downtown Parking Availability Study (January 2012) found that there are 36,473 monthly contract parking spaces downtown. 4,375 of those spaces are available (see attachment to motion). The Downtown Shuttle provides easy access to the majority of those spaces and runs frequently through much of the day.
“If you walk through Over-the-Rhine during a snowy winter, you’ll see cars in the surface parking lots covered with snow that has never been dusted off because they haven’t been driven in weeks,” Munitz said. “The convenience sought by downtown residents is not instant access to a car – it’s the ability to live without a car.”
Qualls’ motion directs the city administration prepare an ordinance eliminating the requirements within 30 days of council passage.
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