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IS THE METER RUNNING OUT FOR OFF-STREET PARKING REQUIREMENTS?

For developers, satisfying off-street parking requirements is just one part of the planning and design process for new construction or development. In essence, it is the developer that ultimately becomes responsible for ensuring that the demand for parking spaces is met.

To make this daunting task easier, zoning codes set forth the requisite minimum number of off-street parking spaces for new developments or property uses. These minimum requirements are established largely through the work of professional planners who have factored in (1) the underlying or proposed land use of the property (there are hundreds of distinct land uses, according to various publications of the American Planning Association, and (2) various factors (so-called "bases")-like the building's floor area or the number of anticipated employees, for example-of which there are also hundreds that have been identified by planners. It is a complex algorithm that, to reach the final minimum requirements to be codified in the zoning bylaw, often also requires a large amount of experience and educated guesswork. The end product is a table, formula and/or use-based list that sets forth how many spaces must be set aside for parking.

For developers, particularly in areas like Boston and many other Massachusetts cities where available land is already at a premium, actually meeting these requirements is altogether a separate challenge. Sometimes these minimums cannot be achieved and thus some kind of zoning relief or other conditions becomes necessary.

But a review of some recent articles suggests that the notion of parking, and what, exactly, is ideal, is being reconsidered by some in the land planning and zoning sectors. Not just how many spaces, but for whom, when and where? It's an interesting discussion, and one that does not seem to be ending any time soon. We've rounded up a short list of articles that further explore the complex issue of parking demand and what to do about it, both in the long and short terms.

  • From City Block (a blog written by Alex Block out of D.C.; this piece has many great links to related articles, two of which are included directly below)
  • From Grist
  • From The Wall Street Journal
  • A short piece from Newton TAB blog about a proposal in Newtonville
  • An interesting look at technology that is being used with metered parking in Salem (by The Salem News)
  • How bikers are also facing parking supply problems, from The Boston Globe
  • Another recent Boston Globe piece about what's happening in Boston with new residential developments and parking requirements
  • A 2010 New York Times piece about the "cost" of free parking
  • The Milford Daily News reports today about a proposed zoning bylaw change in Franklin that would allow stand-alone, private parking structures (the current bylaw requires that off-street parking be built in conjunction with other commercial development)
  • Wicked Local has been following what's going on in Wellesley with the proposed Wellesley Inn construction which has parking-related issues, reported first on July 18, and followed up post-vote on July 25 (it appears that parking still remains to be discussed).

As the trend toward more sustainable living and development progresses, together with shifting populations that may or may not be car-dependent, the debate about what to do with all of the cars will be an interesting one to watch.

Written by Kristen M. Ploetz, Esq., of Green Lodestar Communications & Consulting, LLC, on behalf of Jeffrey T. Angley, P.C. Edited by Jeffrey T. Angley, Esq.

Copyright (c) 2011-2013 by Jeffrey T. Angley, P.C. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this post is general in nature and for educational purposes only. No personal legal advice is being provided. If you have an actual legal issue that needs to be addressed, you should seek the advice of competent legal counsel. This post does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Jeffrey T. Angley, P.C., Phillips & Angley or their attorneys.

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