The issue of parking is of course a critical issue in Davis that seems to pop up every time there is a new proposed development. What is interesting of course is the fact that it is an issue not every sees eye to eye on.
Some people believe we need more parking, some believe we need less parking.
When the neighbors appealed the city staff’s approval of the B Street Residence project, they raised the issue of parking. As Jennifer Wolfe told the Vanguard, “They are proposing inadequate parking for 13 units, which will force renters to park on side streets (the city took away all parking at all times on B Street).”
In their letter, they note, “When reading the Guide to Infill Development on the City of Davis website, it seems that parking is not really considered. This seems like a glaring omission. Choosing to have the residents of the eleven different units park on a side street is going to present a problem. There is not adequate space for eleven or more vehicles.”
Eileen Samitz in a comment on the Vanguard added that “11 units with only 13 parking spaces when there is no parking on B St. in (the) vicinity was a terrible plan. It will just push the parking needs onto the surrounding neighborhoods.”
It is worth noting that, while the Planning Commission voted 4-3 to uphold the appeal (rejecting the project), they did not cite parking as a reason for the denial.
It seemed like a good idea to start with the city’s ordinances and codes as to parking requirements. Section 40.25.090(h) lays out the requirements for multi-family dwellings: “Dwellings, multiple, one for each efficiency apartment, one for each one bedroom apartment, one and three-fourths for each two bedroom apartment and two for each three or more bedroom apartment. Where the total number of spaces required by this subsection calls for a fraction of a space of one-half or greater, it shall require the provision of one full space.”
However under a 2013 ordinance, there are incentives for reduction: “Should a business or institution be interested in going above and beyond the bicycle parking requirements and amenities as specified in this article, certain measures can be taken. The director of community development or her/his designee reserves the right to implement certain incentives to help assist the implementation of increased bicycle amenities, such as, locker rooms, showers, or indoor secure bicycle parking. Potential incentives may include offsetting the required number of vehicle parking spaces (two spaces maximum or five percent of required vehicle parking), or other design requirements to accommodate space for secure bicycle parking, and other bicycle commuter amenities.”
As the Planning Commission staff report explains, “The project proposes a total of 16 bedrooms and 13 on-site parking spaces.
“The City has an adopted a Bicycle Ordinance that allows the Director of Community Development to implement certain incentives including offsetting the required number of vehicle parking spaces by a maximum of 2 spaces for projects going above and beyond the bicycle parking requirements and amenities as specified in the ordinance. Under this provision, the project parking has been offset by two parking spaces, from 15 to 13, for providing increased bicycle amenities including individual secure bicycle parking lockers within each covered parking space on the site.”
The big question here is whether a parking management plan is going to work. The developer of this project, Kemble Pope, explained to council on Tuesday that the parking is separated from rent. In order to get a parking spot on site, the tenant would have to pay $100 a month – a fairly steep charge.
The neighbors are naturally concerned that, with limitation already on parking on B Street, this will push parking out into the neighborhoods. Staff on Tuesday explained that the residents here would be ineligible to receive a parking permit to go to A Street, but, as Brett Lee pointed out, they could park on 9th Street.
Brett Lee pointed out that 9th Street “is already a somewhat difficult place to park.”
Mayor Robb Davis noted that with his building, owned by Chuck Roe, they charge $40 a month and he said only three people of the six in his building have taken advantage of that. “I think that’s an effective way to disincentivize people from having extra cars. It’s worked where I live.”
The difference of course is that Robb Davis lives downtown, and you would not be able to keep an extra car on the street. However, if there are areas near this project where people can park on the street, it seems like the neighbors do have a point that this would simply push the parking into the neighborhoods.
But there is a simple solution for this and that is to have required permits along 9th Street which should solve this problem.
The intention here is clear – the council, the city, others want to disincentivize people from having extra cars, especially in the core area of the city. People will naturally question whether you can structure the parking situation in such a way to do that. And clearly it is a work in progress, but that is the goal.
As Rochelle Swanson pointed out, parking is an issue here, but she argued that “people should be biking and walking given where this is located.”
I get it, there are going to be people who push back and argue that the city should not be attempting to create incentives for biking and alternative transportation, but I have to disagree here.
The idea here is simple: if people want to own two or three cars, they are either going to have to pay for the extra parking spaces – and my guess is at $100 per month per car, there will be additional capacity for multiple cars – or they should live somewhere else.
This is not the place to live for a family that has three cars. And they are already making it so that students are going to have a tough time living there, with requirements that will prevent co-signing the lease.
Can people find ways to get around the parking requirements? Probably. The city will eventually have to look into permitting on 9th Street, just as they’ve done elsewhere in the neighborhood. But that is a tweak.
We need to change our mindset that everyone is entitled to have two cars and live wherever they want. I’m not arguing to eliminate cars, only arguing that we can have places that are built for people who either don’t have cars or have fewer cars.
At $100 a month for parking, that’s more than I pay for my downtown spot ($75) for the Vanguard parking spot. That will leave quite a few spaces available. The city’s job will be to make sure they close down alternatives where people can go to avoid that fee and the intention of the rule – which is to encourage people not to have cars when they live in this area of town.
—David M. Greenwald reporting