This post originally appeared on the Arlington Transportation Partners blog.
Each parking space in a garage can take up as much as 400 square feet, or 36 percent of an average Arlington County, Va., apartment, and spaces can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 each to build. The availability of parking also has a strong influence on the transportation choices that we make. That is why county policy encourages staff and the Board to:
- Ensure that minimum parking needs are met and excessive parking is not built
- Allow reductions in parking at locations well served by other transportation modes
- Reduce parking requirements for affordable housing
Arlington County is reviewing a part of its policy on how much automobile parking developers must build with new apartments and condominiums proposed for Arlington’s metro corridors.
A Working Group, made up of Arlington residents as well as business stakeholders appointed by the County Manager, has been meeting since September 2016. The Working Group is putting the finishing touches on a recommendation to County staff.
Seven elements for flexible-yet-predictable parking minimum requirements
The Working Group recommends that:
- Parking minimums should relate to how far the apartment or condo building is from a Metro station.
- For each committed-affordable unit, allow fewer parking spaces than for market-rate units.
- If a developer provides extra bike parking, bike sharing or car sharing amenities as part of the project, then allow fewer private-vehicle parking spaces to be built.
- Allow developers to build garages where apartments or condos share parking spaces with offices, retail and other uses, depending on the time of day.
- Developers should be able to supply some or all of their parking for apartments or condos in another building or garage within 800 feet of the building.
- In some cases, allow builders to construct fewer parking spaces if site conditions make building that parking especially difficult.
- If developers build more than a certain amount of parking, they must take steps to ensure that the building does not generate excessive levels of vehicle traffic.
The Working Group crafted these recommendations based on previously established County policy, six guiding principles that members wrote and adopted and current practices in other similar communities.
Taken together, the Working Group’s seven elements would add more predictability to the development-approval process for residents and developers, and it would allow developers more room to decide how much parking they will provide as an amenity to their prospective residents. This would allow parking supply to better match parking demand as many buildings in the Metro Corridors have excess parking. Furthermore, if developers were to choose to build less parking as a result, then the community could benefit from lower costs to produce housing – especially committed affordable housing.
Of course, off-street parking is only one component of Arlington’s parking supply. However, the County will not make changes to the Residential Permit Parking program or hours of operation of rates for meters based on the Working Group’s recommendation. It’s also important to note that the Working Group process will not change the Zoning Ordinance’s minimum requirements.
What happens next?
County staff will take the Working Group’s recommendation into consideration along with input from the public to create a recommendation for the County Manager to approve and send to the County Board for adoption at its June meeting.
Arlingtonians, want to get involved?
Get more information on the Working Group’s recommendation at the project website. Staff will be posting the Working Group’s report there and opening an online survey that you can complete. You can also see readings and summaries of prior meetings.
Keep an eye on the “Project Dates” section of the page for more events where you can listen and share your views.
Photo by Sam Kittner for Arlington Transportation Partners, www.kittner.com