Friday, October 31

New Downtown Parking Garage?

A study of the parking situation in downtown Charlottesville has been released, and it's available online here. An important point from the study:

"On typical weekdays during the business day, there is currently enough parking overall for everyone. At the busiest time of the survey, only 63% of spaces were occupied. There were approximately 800 spaces available in the off-street public lots."

Yet a question may be presented if future planned developments all come to fruition:

"Planned downtown development are forecast to generate demand for approximately 1,700 parking spaces during a typical business day. This growth cannot be accommodated solely within the approximately 800 currently available spaces in the public off-street lots. As described above, some private lots may be suitable for public parking, but this may not be enough to accommodate the remainder of the forecast demand growth. If all the forecast developments come to fruition, additional parking spaces (and/or Travel Demand Management (TDM) aimed at reducing the parking demand) may therefore be needed in the future."

So ... there may be a problem in the future (assuming the current economy allows these developments to move forward), and the city could either:

1. Create more parking.
2. Encourage alternatives to driving downtown. (TDM strategies)

City staff has chosen the first course of action, and they want to act right away. On Monday, planning staff will address the City Council and ask for the financing and construction of another parking garage downtown. The city staff also wants to rescind Parking Exemption Zones (PEZ), urban areas in which developments do not have to meet the parking required by zoning.

From the study:

"The market is generally providing parking for developments within the Parking Exempt Zone (PEZ) at a similar level to the City’s requirements for areas outside the PEZ. The PEZ is not currently causing any problems. However, the City is concerned that once these
existing spaces are all in use, it may be less easy for the market to provide spaces for new developments."

Just in case parking in the PEZs becomes a problem in the future, the city wants to dissolve them and proposes that fees-in-lieu collected from developers who opt not to create more parking go toward the new parking garage. There is no mention of the alternative transit options suggested in the study.

Here's what Jim Tolbert, Director of Neighborhood Development, will tell Council on Monday:

"While the Water Street garage does not appear to be near capacity, the reality is that with the addition of the hotel spaces and its number of monthly permits it very soon could find itself displaying the “full” sign. When the two surface lots are developed, this problem will become critical. The proper course of action is to find a location for a new garage, secure the site, and begin plans for its financing and construction."

The entire staff report is here on page 64.


Dave said...

I hate to see cities head down this path. If xyz happens then maybe they will have a problem. Instead they want to spend millions to build something that in all likelyhood will one day just be part of an oversupply of parking and wasted space.

Daniel Nairn said...

It will be interesting to see how the City Council and public react to this proposal. It's just coming out now.

rob said...

Hey Daniel -- this is unrelated to this post -- I saw a comment of yours on Where (re: localism and political philosophies), which led me over here.

I was pretty excited to see that you're reading Ellul on cities... I haven't read The Meaning of the City, but a couple of his books (The Humiliation of the Word and The Technological Society) inspired my undergraduate thesis. I always found him to be a very challenging writer (not in a technical sense, though I suppose he is that too, but in a moral sense). I also see Wolterstorff and Keller over there, so I suspect we would have a lot to talk about if we ever met.

Anyways, looks like a nice blog with some good thoughts (enjoyed the posts on the fused grid, naked streets, small spaces, and -- as someone who works hard to control his pedestrian/cycling rage (rage at drivers, that is) -- the one about street width). I'll be back. Hopefully you'll have some thoughts on or prompted by Ellul at some point?