In my bid for reelection I have gained an opponent due to the position I took on parking regulations for new commercial development. This gives me the opportunity to inform the public on the reasons why this policy change is in our interest and specifically how it meets the goals in our city’s Comprehensive Plan.
Last fall, I joined colleagues on the Council to approve amendments to our Land Development Regulations, unanimously recommended to us by the Planning Commission, that will allow for market-based parking standards for new commercial development. Since the 1980s we have been relying on arbitrary national standards that have needlessly increased our impervious surfaces and, therefore, stormwater runoff and pollution in our waterways and lake. The market has proven to be a more effective regulator and has the additional advantages of reducing development costs (both soft and hard, i.e., in the planning phases and at the time of construction), which makes it easier to meet our affordable housing and economic development goals. It has been shown throughout the country that this market-based approach gives more flexibility to businesses and lowers the economic bar and facilitates the entry of smaller or local businesses and creation of housing. It introduces a flexibility and adaptability to our planning rules that additionally allows businesses to grow. This is in our interest here as we work toward continued prosperity through economic and environmental sustainability.
In preparation for the public discussion and Council vote, I consulted a number of articles, available on-line, and which I make available to you. I also reached out to town planners in a number of cities, all of whom confirmed my findings that this market-based approach has been successful.