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LA is Moving Beyond Its One Size Fits All Parking Requirements

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Builders may be able to get a little more flexibility in how many parking spaces they include with their projects--the City Council today approved the long-gestating Modified Parking Requirement District ordinance, concluding a process that began last September. The ordinance allows for the creation of Modified Parking Requirement districts that allow the use of "one or more" of "seven parking requirement modification tools." As explained in September, those tools are: 1) change of use parking standards (i.e., if a building's use changes, parking requirements won't), 2) use of a new Parking Reduction Permit (individual projects could request fewer required parking spaces), 3) buildings could move parking off-site to within 1,500 feet, 4) decreased parking requirements, 5) increased parking requirements, 6) commercial parking credits, and 7) maximum parking limits (each use within a district has a set maximum number of spaces).

As described by Planning and Land Use Management Chair Ed Reyes, the new ordinance allows neighborhoods to be creative in addressing parking by "working with the city to address parking with a menu of options...without taking away the discretion of the local stakeholder." That range of options, according to Reyes, "translates into better business for LA." City Planner Tom Rothman was careful to classify the ordinance as "enabling legislation" that does not change any parking requirements that currently exist. The short queue of public speakers that addressed the ordinance were uniformly supportive for the business benefits they see from the ordinance.

To create an MPR, a neighborhood will have to collect signatures of "at least 75 percent of the owners or lessees of property within the proposed district," according to the City Attorney's report on the ordinance. According to the City Attorney's report, here are the other special use districts that require a similar approval process: "Commercial and Artcraft District, a Pedestrian Oriented District, an Equinekeeping District, a Community Design Overlay District, a Mixed Use District, a Sign District, a Residential Floor Area District, a Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay District, a Hillside Standards Overlay District, or a Modified Parking Requirement District." So if you can figure out which kind of supplemental use district would help your business the most, collect the necessary signatures, and shepherd the approval of the district through your Neighborhood Council, Council office, three committees, and whatever NIMBY bombs get thrown your way, you will have seven new creative options for how to customize parking requirements to your neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the state legislature has experienced some fits and starts with legislation that would lower parking requirements (as in number four above) in transit-oriented districts (the most recent manifestation, AB 904, was recently killed). Also, neighborhoods including Eagle Rock and Atwater Village have launched pilot projects allowing parking credits (like number six above) for commercial projects. This new ordinance basically lays these, and the other five, options on the table.

Councilmember Paul Koretz was the sole "no" vote on the ordinance, claiming that he'd heard complaints from neighborhood groups in his district concerned that the new ordinance would further limit parking in areas where parking spots are already in short supply. (His district includes the notoriously awful parking situation on Third Street.) Image via The Architect's Newspaper
· LA Working on Ditching One Size Fits All Parking Requirements [Curbed LA]