Utah is considering legislation requiring parking near transit stops
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More walkability means less parking.
In what has become a trend in major metropolitan areas, the Utah legislature is preparing a bill that would prevent cities from mandating parking in new residential and commercial buildings near transit stations.
Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, has petitioned lawmakers’ attorneys for a bill called Local Government Parking Requirements, and he says the intent is threefold. “The idea is to have more walkable communities, more affordable housing, and less government regulation.”
Currently, cities often require a minimum number of parking spaces for new buildings, regardless of where they are located. Along the Wasatch Front, more than 30% of commercial space is used for parking; There are eight spaces for each car, according to Cameron Carter, an intern at the nonprofit Bike Utah who has taken on the parking cause.
“Excessive parking is not a market failure. Rather, it is a direct result of government mandated parking requirements,” Carter’s report said. “Government mandates prevent the free market from efficiently allocating land and resources in high-demand cities. These requirements often override consumer and business preferences in favor of lavish and car-centric design, particularly in locations with easy access to public transport.”
Adding parking also increases construction costs, making it more difficult to address the state’s affordable housing deficit.
Dan Lofgren, co-founder of Cowboy Properties, which has built homes on the Wasatch Front, acknowledged that “unnecessary parking has a significant impact on affordability.”
That’s partly why he understands the motivation behind the proposed legislation. But he also understands local governments trying to manage their own situation.
“The overarching question is who should make these decisions,” Lofgren said. “I tend to fall back on the cities that are closer to the circumstances.”
However, he noted that not every city has taken action, and he can understand why a state policy is being considered. “No one goes wrong here”
Spendlove said the details of the new bill have not yet been finalized but he still hopes to offer it at this session.
Cameron Diehl, executive director of the Utah League of Cities and Towns, said the league does not comment on bills until they are officially introduced, but he believes the issue was mediated last year when Legislature HB462 (“Utah Housing Affordability Changes “).
This housing affordability law requires cities to create “station area plans” for each transit station, and those plans must address transportation and parking issues. Diehl pointed to Farmington and Vineyard — which each have a Frontrunner station — as two cities that handle this process well.
“The reason the model has worked so far is because last year it was recognized that all transit stations are different,” Diehl said. “There are cities that plan transit well, and HB462 is about raising the bar for all cities.”
Vineyard also draws on another state initiative that allowed the city to create a “Housing, Transit Reinvestment Zone” around its Frontrunner station, which sits on vacant land expected to have thousands of residents in the years to come will.
Salt Lake City updated its ordinances last year to drop parking requirements in counties around transit stations. The city has also tied parking requirements in other areas to the availability of other transportation options. Areas with more bike lanes and bus traffic may have fewer parking spaces.
“That makes it less expensive to build extremely affordable housing,” said Nick Norris, Salt Lake City planning director. “It also makes it easier to convert an existing building to another use without having to change parking spaces.”
“Under current regulations, zoning sometimes requires more parking as the use of the building changes,” Norris continued. “That can make it difficult for some businesses located in buildings that would otherwise not meet parking requirements. This proposal would remove these types of barriers and could facilitate change of use.”
“The downside is that if parking is not provided within a development, the demand for on-street parking will increase and cities need to be prepared to cope,” he added.
Carter pointed to a housing project developer Colmena is planning at 1435 S. State Street in Salt Lake City as an example of what’s possible. The 181-unit project includes two- and three-bedroom apartments, but only 171 parking spaces.
Another Salt Lake City project, the Chicago Apartments at North Temple, will have just 0.35 parking spaces for each unit.
The Chicago development, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2024, is a five-minute walk from the Jackson-Euclid TRAX station at North Temple. It will have 137 units, mostly studios, but only 58 parking spaces. There are also 66 bicycle parking spaces.
“The city encourages less parking because it’s expensive,” said Warren Crummett, owner and director of Go West Investments, which is building the Chicago. He said it costs about $50,000 per stand.
Grummett isn’t sure if not making a parking request will work in all cases. In suburban areas, there is a greater need for a car, even if you live near a transit station. He also said some lenders might have parking requirements even if the city doesn’t.
Parks reform has become a rallying cry across the country, particularly among city dwellers looking to reclaim open space and increase safety for pedestrians. Studies have shown that more than half of the space in metropolitan areas is reserved for cars, including streets, parking lots and garages.
According to the nonprofit Parking Reform Network, there are more than 200 communities that have relaxed parking regulations. There are currently no Utah locations on the group’s list.
https://www.sltrib.com/news/2023/01/26/less-lots-more-walks-utah/ Utah is considering legislation requiring parking near transit stops