The real parking problem in Dayton

Parking meter shot

It's time to rethink parking downtown

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Bruno Furnari via Compfight

Imagine what would happen if NYC enacted rules requiring one parking space per every 1000 square feet of living space?

NYC wouldn’t be NYC.

That’s because the whole value of a dense urban downtown is that by cramming people together, you create critical concentrated buying power that supports retail. People in NYC don’t have cars- they walk, they use public transit, they use taxis. It works.

So why does Dayton stifle development with requirements of x parking spaces for business, residential, commercial? Because we’re stupid.

Cincinnati on the other hand is thinking of abolishing parking requirements to spur growth and to shift the cost of owning a car back to the car owner instead of to the real estate developer:

Cincinnati’s vice mayor has proposed a zoning change to allow developers to avoid minimum parking space requirements in downtown and Over-The-Rhine.

Roxanne Qualls introduced the motion Tuesday with support from City Council members Laure Quinlivan, Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson, Cecil Thomas and Wendell Young.

The city currently requires one parking space per residential unit in the central business district and Over-The-Rhine, where developers are building new projects and rehabilitating older spaces as apartments, condominiums and commercial properties.

Depending on the location, developers typically build either structured parking lots or buy more land for surface lots, which sometimes requires building demolition.

Nashville, Tenn., Portland, Ore. San Francisco, Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., are among the U.S. cities that have already eliminated parking minimums to reduce the cost of housing and free up space for commercial and residential development.

Downtown Cincinnati Inc.’s most recent quarterly study found that there are 36,473 monthly contract parking spaces downtown, with 4,375 spaces available.

“Cities are recognizing that allowing the market to function will produce a better result,” Qualls said. “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.”

Chad Munitz, of developer 3CDC, said the average cost to a 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, he said, raising the price of a residential unit by as much as $25,000.

Muntz said many residents of downtown and Over-The-Rhine use their cars infrequently, if they have one at all.

“The convenience sought by downtown residents is not instant access to a car; it’s the ability to live without a car,” Muntz said.

If approved, the parking requirements would be lifted within 30 days.

via Plan Would Allow Development Without Parking – Cincinnati News Story – WLWT Cincinnati.

Dayton’s Oregon District has buildings that have been rendered worthless because of these stupid requirements. Because it’s a historic district you can’t tear down anything to build a lot- and there are only so many spaces available. No developer is going to build a garage in the Oregon District (partially because the city transportation center garage is so close- and vacant most nights) because there isn’t enough demand for parking and the rates they could charge wouldn’t pay back the structure.

It’s time to change the zoning laws to release real estate from coming with parking- and to look at other options to allow more people to come downtown without having to park right at the door. Some solutions: free parking for 2-wheeled vehicles on sidewalks if not impeding walkers, a bike-share system to help facilitate moving from fringe parking lots to core buildings, changing more on-street parking to end in, like they’ve done in front of the Cannery on E. Third Street- which almost doubles the parking density, and lastly- turning the Oregon District into a pedestrian mall every weekend to attract more walkers, to increase opportunities for more retail, which will help getting occupancy up to 100% in all buildings on all levels and give us the kind of population density that can support more retail.

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