- The Austin City Council voted to completely eliminate parking requirements across our community, for all land uses
- Because of the change, parking for high-traffic businesses will shift onto neighborhood streets
- The council voted without notifying the public, debating the matter, or gathering community input
On May 4, the Austin City Council voted to completely eliminate minimum off-street parking requirements across our community—and they did so without notice and without public debate.
Austin’s land development code, like codes across the country, requires residential properties and businesses to provide off-street parking spaces for use of residents, employees and customers. The code prescribes the minimum number of parking spaces based on the type of use and the size of the structure.
Once the new policy is implemented through a code amendment, developers and property owners will have the prerogative not to provide off-street parking and to shift existing parking for their employees, customers, or residential tenants to the public streets.
Inadequate parking increases traffic congestion by forcing drivers to circle the block searching for a parking space, hurting the environment. Neighborhoods with nearby commercial zoning are most at risk. Businesses, including bars and clubs and other high-traffic-generating land uses, are now free to use neighborhoods as their parking lots, creating traffic congestion and safety problems for residents. Businesses with inadequate parking will monopolize on-street parking spaces needed for public facilities, such as schools where parents and visitors to the school need a place to park.
As astonishing as the policy was the total absence of any process underlying it. There was no public notice, no consultation with schools, parents, neighborhoods, or others who would have welcomed a chance to provide input before the policy was adopted and the code amendments set in motion. Only nine days elapsed between the time it was first mentioned on the council’s message board to its adoption. At the council meeting, the resolution was placed on the “consent” portion of the agenda. There was no debate or even discussion among the members other than self-congratulatory statements. The mayor and all council members except for Council Member Alison Alter voted in favor of the new policy throwing out the existing parking rules for no rules.
Together we can build an Austin for everyone!