Now There’s an Idea —

Westfield, MA seemed to have a problem. They had a lot of downtown space that could be used as apartments, and they had developers who were willing to renovate the space, but the rules said that they couldn’t be used as apartments because there wasn’t enough parking. What to do, WHAT TO DO?

A Shoupista would say: “Do away with parking requirements!”  Sometimes its not that easy.  However in Westfield they are taking a different tact.

Developers are working with the city to lease parking space in nearby city owned parking garages and lots that can be applied to parking requirements in nearby newly renovated apartments. Great!

Its a short term fix. It seems that students who have rented space downtown already are purchasing monthly permits from the city.  So why not simply change the zoning rules and let apartment dwellers do the same.  My guess?  There are no guarantees.

See if people move downtown and don’t happen to own a car, or two cars, then the city won’t get additional revenue. However if the city requires developers to purchase parking from the city on the long term basis, even if it isn’t needed, think of the revenue.

If we let the market work, developers will be able to build apartments and set rental rates based on whether parking is available or not. Then if someone who doesn’t own a car wants to rent downtown, they can do so and pay less. It’s not the responsibility of the city government to provide parking, or require that parking be available. Why not treat suppliers and customers like adults and let them make those decisions. If someone realizes that there is no parking, maybe they won’t rent there, make arrangements for parking, or, shudder, dare I say it, sell their car and walk.

After all, that’s why they moved downtown in the first place, isn’t it? So they can have all the benefits of the central city without having to drive…

H/T PT’s Facebook page


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