Roger L. Stancil, Town Manager
J.B. Culpepper, Planning Director
Gene Poveromo, Development Coordinator
Land Use Management Ordinance Text Amendments: Changes to Vehicular and Bicycle Parking Regulations
February 26, 2007
This proposal to adjust parking requirements in the Land Use Management Ordinance comes back to the Council, following a Public Hearing on May 23, 2005.
Enactment of Ordinance A would amend the Town’s parking regulations, as proposed by the Town’s transportation consultant, and recommended by the staff on May 23, 2005. Two adjustments were made following the February 21, 2005 Public Hearing:
(1) Elimination of minimum vehicular parking requirements in Town Center districts; and
(2) Calculation of all bicycle parking requirements in relation to the amount of proposed development (rather than calculation based on a percentage of vehicular parking spaces required).
During the fall of 2003, we began work on a study of parking patterns in Chapel Hill. The purpose of the study was to determine how much parking is needed for different types of land use, specifically for Chapel Hill. The objective was to adjust the Town’s parking requirements that are contained in the Land Use Management Ordinance, based on empirical, local data, and the most recent national standards. LSA Associates, Inc. was hired by the Town to complete the study.
On November 22, 2004, the Council received the consultant’s report, and scheduled a Public Hearing for February 21, 2005. The consultant’s report provided a survey of select parking facilities and provided recommended parking requirements. The consultants found that the majority of the recommended minimum parking rates remained generally equal to the current Land Use Management Ordinance provisions. Lower minimum rates were recommended by the consultant for seven categories. For two uses, banks and general businesses (retail), parking requirements higher than today’s standards were recommended for outside the Town Center.
On February 21, 2005, the Council considered the study that had been prepared by the Town’s consultant and received comments from advisory boards and citizens. Of particular note was a recommendation from the Planning Board that a new approach be considered: eliminate all requirements for a minimum number of parking spaces that must be provided with new development, and instead impose only a maximum cap on the number of spaces that could be constructed. The Council asked that the idea of eliminating minimum requirements be referred to advisory boards for their review and input.
On May 23, 2005, the item returned to the Town Council with recommendations from the advisory boards. The Transportation Board had reviewed the ideas on May 17, and voted 7-0 to ask for additional time to study these ideas. At the meeting, the Council agreed by consensus to refer the parking item to the Transportation Board for further consideration of the Council comments. A copy of the May 23, 2005 item (Attachment 2) is attached.
On August 24, 2006, the Transportation Board provided a recommendation. The Board supported the staff’s recommendation, including the elimination of minimum requirements in the Town Center, only with a modification regarding two-family uses. A copy of the Transportation Board recommendation (Attachment 1) is attached.
On January 8, 2007, the Council requested that these text amendments be placed on tonight’s agenda for possible action.
For a full discussion of issues presented at the Public Hearings, please refer to the attached memorandum from February 21, 2005 and from May 23, 2005 (part of Attachment 4). In the memoranda we recommended enactment of new parking regulations, as recommended by the Town’s Transportation consultant, but with three changes:
1. Single-family dwelling units: We recommended no minimum or maximum parking requirements for single-family dwelling units. Many single-family dwelling units in Town currently exceed the consultant’s proposal for a maximum number of parking spaces (three). A three-car garage with parking spaces in front of each garage bay would exceed the maximum provision by three spaces, for example. An important consideration here is the current restriction (which would be continued), limiting driveway and parking areas to no more that 40 percent of a front yard.
2. Two-family dwelling units: We recommended no minimum parking requirements for two-family development. In addition, for two-family dwelling units, we recommended that a footnote be added, which indicates, for the purposes of calculating the maximum number of vehicular parking spaces, that garage spaces and the driveway are not to be counted.
3. Public Use Facilities: We recommended the elimination of a maximum parking requirement for Public Use Facilities. For Public Use Facilities, such as a Town park, the consultant’s proposal would impose a maximum for vehicular parking, based on the proposed square footage of the buildings on site. When we applied the new standard to the Southern Community Park, for example, we found that the maximum parking allowed would be well short of needs, because so much of the park usage would be related to outdoor playing fields; relatively little building square footage is proposed.
We continue to recommend these changes as part of Ordinance A.
COMMENTS AT THE PUBLIC HEARING
Elimination of Minimum Parking Requirements:
On February 21, 2005, the Council considered the study that had been prepared by the Town’s consultant and received comments from Advisory Boards and citizens. Of particular note was a recommendation from the Planning Board that a new approach be considered: eliminate all requirements for a minimum number of parking spaces that must be provided with new development, and instead impose only a maximum cap on the number of spaces that could be constructed. The Council found merit in that proposal, and asked that the idea be referred to the Transportation Board, the Community Design Commission, and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board for reaction and comment. A discussion of recommendations from advisory boards is provided below.
Comment: We believe that the idea of eliminating minimum parking requirements would be consistent with many Town policies, including those that encourage non-automobile travel patterns, and those that seek to minimize impervious surface coverage in new development. We think the idea is workable, particularly with respect to the downtown area where transit service is most available, and where there is a tradition of walking and/or use of public parking facilities. In the Town Center, there are several provisions available in current regulations for meeting parking requirements by means other than building parking spaces. A developer may propose to make arrangements for off-site parking; may propose to share parking with a counter-cyclical use; may propose to make a payment-in-lieu; and/or may propose a modification of parking regulations for a particular site. We have observed the operation of developments, such as the Top of the Hill building, where no parking was provided along with the building, as evidence that this idea can work. We recommend enactment of the “no minimum” proposal for the Town Center zoning districts.
We are less convinced that the idea is workable outside of Town Center. It may be that a minimum level of parking is always needed at non-downtown locations. We know of no development in Chapel Hill outside of downtown that functions without at least some parking. We are concerned that if a new development outside of downtown is constructed without parking, the result could be encroachment into nearby parking lots or nearby residential streets. We do not recommend enactment of the “no minimum” proposal for areas outside of downtown. We recommend that the idea be implemented downtown initially; if successful, it could be considered at a later time for other selected locations.
Bicycle Parking: A related recommendation from the Planning Board was to decouple bicycle and vehicle parking requirements. For example: require bicycle parking at the rate of one space per 5,000 square feet of floor area for a new development (rather than stating a bicycle requirement as “10 percent of required automobile parking spaces”).
Comment: We believe that this is a good idea, particularly because we are now recommending eliminating vehicle parking requirements in the downtown area. This change has been incorporated in Ordinance A.
Citizen Comments from the Public Hearing:
1. A representative from UNC Hospitals suggested that the proposed parking requirement for hospitals was too low, and asked that the proposed maximum be raised.
Comment: We believe that this is a reasonable suggestion, given the unique circumstances surrounding hospital services, accounting for the needs of patients, family members, visitors, and staff. We have incorporated this change into Ordinance A, raising the maximum parking limit to 2 spaces per bed. This provision would not apply to UNC Hospitals on the University campus, where the OI-4 zoning district currently does not specify parking requirements.
2. A representative of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce questioned how parking requirements would be calculated for combinations of uses. An example was offered of a restaurant use within a hotel. Concern was also expressed regarding uncertainty that might be introduced if parking requirements varied according to such issues as proximity to transit.
Comment: Regarding the concern about combinations of uses: the method for calculating parking requirements is to identify each use in a development, and sum the requirements. In the case of multiple uses on a site (example, hotel and restaurant), the minimum and maximum requirements for the hotel, based on the number of rooms, would be added to the minimum and maximum requirements for the restaurant, (proposed to be based on the square footage of the restaurant). Regarding the concern about uncertainty if parking requirements varied according to such issues as proximity to transit, we note that this is not proposed.
Planning Board Recommendation: The Planning Board has recommended enactment of the Consultant’s proposal for adjusting parking requirements with one change: adjustment to eliminate minimum vehicular parking requirements, and to specify only maximum provisions. Please see attached Summary of Planning Board Action (part of Attachment 2).
Transportation Board Recommendation: On August 24, 2006, the Transportation Board supported the staff’s revised recommendation with a modification to provide a minimum parking requirement for two-family uses. A copy of the Transportation Board recommendation is attached.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board Recommendation: The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board reviewed the proposed changes on January 25, 2005, and voted unanimously to recommend the changes with adjustments to the bicycle parking provisions, as identified in the attached Ordinance B. Ordinance B differs from Ordinance A on the following items:
The Board recommended recalibrating bicycle requirements, to be based on intensity of proposed use, rather than based on number of vehicle parking spaces required. Please refer to the attached Summary of Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board Action (part of Attachment 2).
Community Design Commission Recommendation: The Community Design Commission recommended that there be different parking standards for different parts of Town, and that there be a provision in the regulations for a waiver from minimum parking requirements.
Staff Recommendation: We recommend that the Town Council enact the attached Ordinance A. Ordinance A is based on the Consultant’s recommended proposal and includes the changes noted above, including an elimination of minimum vehicular parking requirements in Town Center zoning districts.
Ordinance B incorporates the recommendations of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board as noted above.