Last week, while at Penn Station at Gravois Plaza, I look out the window and I’m struck by the massive amount of parking.Â Parking so far away from most stores it has likely never seen any use.
When I pulled away I went that direction to get another view:
The excessive parking you see is either mandated by the zoning code or used as filler space by the developer.Â Either way it is unnecessary, a waste of land and a bad decision for the environment by causing more water runoff.Â From above it is really stark:
For a hint of the excesses required by out 60 year old out of date zoning code let’s take a look at Parking regulations (26.40.030) within the F-Neighborhood Commercial Zone (26.40)
The parking in the “E” Multiple Family Dwellings District, except as modified by Section 26.40.040 shall apply. (Ord. 62588 Â§ 5 (part), 1992.)
26.40.040 Specific parking and loading regulations.
In addition, the following uses shall provide parking space within 1,000 feet of the main building:
A. Retail stores within floor area of more than 3,000 square feet shall provide parking space sufficient to accommodate one motor car for each 700 square feet of floor area in excess of 3,000 square feet which is actually used for the selling of merchandise.
B. Banks and office buildings with floor area of more than 7,500 square feet shall provide parking space sufficient to accommodate one motor car for each 1,250 square feet of floor area in excess of 7,500 square feet which is actually used for banking purpose or for offices.
C. Restaurants, bars, taverns, and exhibition halls with more than 1,000 square feet of floor area shall provide parking space sufficient to accommodate one motor car for each 200 square feet of floor area in excess of 1,000 square feet which is actually used by patrons or customers for such purposes.
D. Theaters shall provide parking space sufficient to accommodate one motor car for each 12 seats.
E. Mortuaries and funeral homes shall provide parking space sufficient to accommodate three motor cars for each chapel or parlor.
I. Private clubs and lodges shall provide parking space sufficient to accommodate one motor car for each one hundred (100) square feet of floor area used for purposes of dancing, assembly or dining. (Ord. 62588 Â§ 5 (part), 1992.)
Did the authors of this code, back in the 1940s, have some great wisdom about parking?Â No!Â They were guessing.Â They were enamored by the “motor car” and wanted to ensure if they gave up the streetcar and bought one they’d be able to park it where they liked.Â They wanted to remove on-street parking because they felt they needed all the lanes available.Â So for sixty years we’ve been building massive parking lots because guys who are long dead made bad guesses about how much parking would be necessary in the future.
Furthermore,Â developers are free to build beyond the too high minimums.Â Desco bragged about having more parking than required at Loughborough Commons.Â Oh Boy!
The Board of Aldermen need to stop focusing on stop signs and petty “constituent service” and authorize a complete overhaul of our zoning code.Â Short of a complete overhaul they need to simply remove all off-street parking mandates.Â Developers & business owners will ensure they have the parking necessary to serve their customers.
Rather than parking minimums we need parking maximums.Â This would cap the number of spaces provided so land is better utilized.
I don’t expect the Slay administration or the members of the Board of Aldermen to do anything about this aging and destructive code.Â Rollin Stanley, the former director of Planning, wanted to update the code to bring it current with all we’ve learned in the past 60 years but we ran him off.
The code was written and adopted we had half a million more people within the city limits.Â So much has changed but the city clings to this code like it is etched in stone.Â Slay — pretend the zoning code is a treasured historic building and raze it!