City set to streamline parking rules

CITY HALL — A series of changes to downtown parking requirements for developers could soon come out of City Hall as officials try to streamline the review process.

The City Council, acting jointly as both City Council and Redevelopment Agency, next week is expected to approve the amendments to the Downtown Specific Plan, a planning document adopted in 2006.

“These amendments help realize the Downtown Specific Plan’s vision for a vibrant walkable downtown,” said Michael Nilsson, the city’s mobility planner.

Among the proposed changes are reducing the number of parking spaces for a variety of uses, allowing tandem and stacked parking to meet minimum requirements, and requiring bicycle parking.

The changes would also allow developers to pay a $24,000 per-parking-space in-lieu fee to meet up to 50% of the required parking for a new development. The funds would then be used by the city to build parking or to support other downtown transportation programs.

Officials have said the current requirements are nearly impossible to meet, forcing most developers and business owners to go through the additional red tape of applying for exceptions.

“The idea behind this all is to set down a series of rules so everyone doesn’t come to us to ask for the parking exceptions,” Mayor Ara Najarian said last week.

The changes are the result of a multi-year process that included public outreach.

Transportation consultant Bonnie Nelson said the amendments would modernize the rules to bring them more in line with those of other local agencies.

“We’ve given a menu of options to really incentivize economic development downtown, while not penalizing people who want to shop, work and travel downtown,” she said.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed changes on Tuesday.

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