An Example of Zoning Overreach…
Shoupistas often gloss over the third leg of Professor Shoup’s theory, that of doing away with mandated parking requirements. It’s urban planning gobbledygook that fascinates professors and PhD candidates but bores the rest of us to tears. The City of Redding in Northern California has come up with a textbook example of why these requirements should be junked. Read about it here.
The city is in the process of approving the development of a parking lot that the city had declared as surplus property. It was little used. The new development is picture perfect for the downtown are with all the mixed use requirements cities love. It would mean, however, a net loss of 18 spaces whilst and at the same time increasing density and traffic. So far so good.
Less than a block away, a building owner wanted to turn 8,000 square feet of storage into rentable space. He has been turned down for his permit because that 8,000 additional sf of offices would, according to the zoning regulations, require an additional 17 parking spaces. Virtually the same number that the city was losing less than a block away.
As the Redding Record Searchlight reports:
But the bottom line remains: The city is selling a parking lot and subsidizing new development in its place, costing a net 18 spaces even while dramatically increasing the residential and commercial density. And within a block it’s stonewalling the full use of an existing building for lack of 17 parking spaces because, hey, rules are rules.
You could circle the block all day and still never find the common sense in that scenario.
The planning wizards have rules in place except when they want to override them. In truth both projects will probably get along just fine without the additional parking. Who knows better how much parking is needed for a development, the person risking their money building it, or bureaucrats in an office somewhere?
And no, those risking money aren’t just greedy fat cats looking for a quick buck. They have factored in the parking as an amenity and know just how attractive their building will be with or without a certain number of parking space.