This week, on recommendation from the Planning and Development department, Houston City Council will consider expanding the area in which properties are exempt from off-street parking requirements, or parking minimums.
Currently, only the Central Business District (think Downtown) is exempt from parking minimums. The upcoming amendment would expand that to include the East End and parts of Midtown, including the location of the proposed Innovation District.
Simply put, the ordinance exempts property owners from within the district from adhering to city rules requiring a specific number of off-street parking spaces.
Parking minimums have a very tangible impact on property owners, small businesses, and renters, to name a few. By requiring that they meet a certain minimum number of off-street parking spaces, government can force businesses to reduce size, scope, or even location of potential development. Space that could be used for extra square footage for customers and additional build-outs on homes are forced to be used for parking, whether necessary or not.
“Within this area, the city-wide rules for off street parking are exempted and property owners may provide the number off-street parking spaces they believe are necessary to serve their customers,” reads the background of the ordinance amendment. “This change gives property owners more flexibility in the use of their property and removes a bureaucratically-imposed minimum that is based on one-size-fits-all analysis.”
There’s hope that with this expansion could come more appetite to see parking minimums scaled back across the city.