Parking and car-love; revisited

Background: My 4-plex currently has parking in the back yard – which is also the south yard. This takes up precious prime garden space and makes it impossible to fence off the backyard for safe child-play and quiet picnic space. In my perfect world, cars would have to park on the street and my whole lot would be car free (but have bike parking). Yes, I am being a sadisitic, high-and-mighty, non-car-owner. And I feel a bit hypocritical since during thanksgiving I had lovely people driving me all over town while my sister visited. In a more reasonable version of my world, the narrow strip of land between the street and my building (on the north side) could be the parking area, leaving the south yard as a car-free oasis of plants and frolicking kids.

From Google Maps, 2008

From Google Maps, 2008

So I’ve been emailing with a very helpful and nice person at the muni Land Use Department, and I can’t do what I want with the parking, because if you have anything bigger than a duplex, traffic can not back straight onto the road. I do not have enough space for parking plus staging. I also asked if I could charge for parking (see previous posts on this topic for more on why and how I would make this fair to car owners). Here is the full text of the latest response:
Michelle,

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner. We applaud your efforts to work toward a more pedestrian friendly city. Strategies applied by the municipality as a whole can only go so far. At some point we need to think on an individual property level and see what each resident can do to achieve these goals.

That said it is difficult at this time to implement some of your desired changes without new parking regulations. Some of your ideas are being contemplated in the Title 21 re-write project. The Anchorage Citizen’s Coalition is a good group to include when promoting your ideas.

As I mentioned earlier the Traffic Engineer is responsible for approving all parking and circulation plans. They have approved one way aisle configurations as long as they meet the current code. Required spaces cannot be compact. Charges for parking space use can only be done for users who exceed minimum time limits and the restrictions are still subject to approval by the Traffic Engineer.

Parking variances are an option. Variances however are generally limited to the minimum variance necessary to allow a reasonable use of the property. If there is a reasonable conforming alternative variances are generally not approved.

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3 responses to “Parking and car-love; revisited

  1. I know I’ve already mentioned this, but if you’re interested in parking stuff in general (and plan on advocating for reform…) you’ve really gotta read The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup. Unfortunately, the nearest copy to you is in Fairbanks: http://is.gd/esDx (maybe you can get an interlibrary loan… it’s textbook-expensive). I just finished it finally.

    At least half the book is recommendations for how cities can transition away from free parking to market pricing, which is great – too many books like this are just criticism without any solutions.

  2. The City of Boulder brought Shoup out to consult on reforming their parking regulations several years ago. Now there are not requirements downtown, and it’s really turning into a little urban core.

  3. I just reserved the book through interlibrary loan (from Kodiak actually…not that it matters!) Thanks for the suggestion. We have a group here (Anchorage Citizens Coalition) that advocates for smart development, ped friendliness, etc. I’ll check in with them about the next steps in advocacy.

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