On April 6, 2023, MCA adopted a resolution urging the Board of Supervisors to oppose a number of proposed amendments to Article 6 of the Zoning Ordinance which regulates off-street parking and loading. Entitled “Parking Reimagined,” the county’s initiative seeks to modernize the ordinance which was adopted in the 1980’s. MCA believes that updates are required, but that key recommendations are unjustified and should not be implemented. In general, MCA believes that the Initiative’s basic assumption about significant future reductions in the use of private vehicles is not supported by the availability of adequate public transportation and service infrastructure.
MCA’s concerns with the proposal focus on four areas:
· First, the proposed excessive reductions to off street minimum parking requirements for multifamily developments would exacerbate the current problem of overflow parking in adjacent neighborhoods. MCA believes the appropriate minimum rate for multifamily buildings should be one space per unit.
· Second, the amendment would grant increased authority to the Director of Land Development Services to unilaterally reduce parking requirements for new developments beyond the 30 percent currently provided in the ordinance. MCA believes that such unilateral authority should be eliminated or conditioned upon public notice and public comment before decisions are taken.
· Third, since the Initiative aims to reduce the negative environmental impact of parking lots, MCA believes that approval for reduced parking should be conditioned upon a requirement that developers provide green spaces, tree canopies and landscaping to mitigate, ‘heat islands’ and assist with stormwater management.
· Fourth, the proposal provides for reductions in off-street loading areas for facilities under 10,000 square feet, while allowing the use of reserved parking spaces and pull-off curb areas. MCA believes that, in practice, this will impact accessibility to handicapped parking.
MCA proposes that the Board of Supervisors remand the Initiative back to the county staff with instructions to implement the required changes.