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Author Topic: Parking Requirements are a Joke  (Read 13375 times)
PonderInc
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« on: June 03, 2009, 09:45:09 am »

I've been looking at Tulsa's zoning code as it relates to parking requirements.  (Yes, I'm THAT nerdy.)  This all started when I was surprised to learn that the CVS going in at 41st and Harvard would have 68 parking spaces. (10 more than required by our already excessive zoning code.)

Even if every shopper drove separately, I doubt there will ever be 68 people in that store at one time.

I was thinking about other parking lots in town, and it occurs to me that tying parking to SF of building space is a pretty arbitrary formula.

Example:
I shop at Reesors on a regular basis.  The huge parking lot at 41st and Harvard is never 1/2 full.  Then I noticed that the much-smaller parking lot at 15th and Lewis is typically more crowded...since it's about 1/2 the size of the other lot...but you can always find a space.

The 15th and Lewis store is smaller than the 41st and Harvard Yale store (so the zoning code requires fewer spaces).  But it got me thinking.  The size of the building doesn't dictate the number of shoppers.  Both stores are in fairly good neighborhoods.   Both generally offer everything you need to fulfill your grocery needs.  The area around 15th and Lewis probably has more homes per acre of land (b/c they're smaller homes on smaller lots).  So, perhaps even more households shop there?

So what?

Tulsa has parking MINIMUMS, based on an arbitrary formula.  The CVS at 41st and Harvard is "only" required to provide 58 spaces.  Instead, they have chosen to include 68.  (Well over 41,000 SF of concrete to support a 12,900 SF building).  There's nothing to prevent them from paving all that extra space, and de-valuing that land.  (Think reduced tax dollars.)

It's time to re-evaluate our parking requirements.  We need to cut the requirements by approx 1/2, and then make that the CAP, not the minimum.  (Developers could always get additional spaces with a variance... if they could prove a hardship.  Doubtful.)

« Last Edit: June 03, 2009, 10:20:14 am by PonderInc » Logged
cannon_fodder
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2009, 09:50:22 am »

I cannot agree more.  I imagine it is our image as lazy Oklahomans that causes businesses to over react.  Only encouraged by our stupid oridnances.   Boatloads of wasted space for heat generating parking lots.  If a business wants to do it, I don't think we should legally stop them.  But why encourage it?

My wife and I commented yesterday that the University of Tulsa has many surface lots on campus.  But they are spread out and the newer ones all have planters, curbs, and curves in them such that they don't look like sprawling wastelands.   Didn't Tulsa pass some kind of ordinance on this some time ago?  Why are all parking lots in Tulsa just baron wasted space?  Even if allow by law, you'd think SOME places would want to make their business more attractive.
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PonderInc
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2009, 10:04:39 am »

Here are some pictures for reference.  These were taken at approx 5:30 PM on a weekday (probably peak useage for pharmacies).  These are all located at 31st and Harvard.

I counted 23 cars at Walgreens (2 are parked around the corner that aren't in the photos), and about 11 at the Drug Warehouse (a few employees' cars are out of the frame).

What does CVS have that these stores don't which will draw over 40 more vehicles to their store?




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Conan71
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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2009, 10:10:01 am »

Two differences between the 41st St. and 15th St. Reesors (actually that's 41st & Yale)

First, the 41st & Yale store is on the site of the former Southroads Mall.  FAIK, parking areas front and back are pretty much as they were in the original development with the addition of stand-alone stores in the parking area to the east of Reesors.  It also presently shares center space with a movie theater, sporting goods store, hobby store, a book store, etc.  IOW, the lot was originally laid out to accomodate many shoppers for multiple stores, much like Woodland Hills.

The Reesors at 15th & Lewis was built as a singular development as a grocery store (Albertsons) with alloted space for a convenience store and Jiffy Lube (Jiffy Lube might have been there before Albertsons).  Braum's already existed when that was still a small residential area and the Jiffy Lube and convenience store, I believe, took the footprint of Impressions restaurant which also existed when there was a small clutch of houses there.

There's also a whole lot of wasted lot space at the Reesor's at 18th & Yale that they share with Target, Gordman's and the other assorted "frontage center" businesses.  
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PonderInc
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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2009, 10:29:10 am »

So one problem with those sites was that they planned for "pad sites" that never materialized (or they are now out of business)?

This raises the issue of "shared parking" which is a whole 'nother ball of wax.  Instead of requiring each individual building to have an independent allotment of parking spaces, we need to allow for shared parking between sites in the same development.  Restaurants, taverns, and grocery stores aren't busy at the same time.  It works great when they share space.

Although I'm sure that the lawyers who represent Blockbuster at 36th and Peoria are annoyed, I love using Blockbuster's under-utilized parking lot when I'm eating on Brookside on a Friday night. (Now that I have to drive there, rather than walk from the neighborhood.) 

If Tulsa had more "Brooksides" spread throughout different neighborhoods, we wouldn't have to drive at all.  Too bad we tore down so many of our older commercial buildings (that used to line our arterial streets)...to build surface parking lots!  Hmmmm...
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2009, 12:59:23 pm »


The Reesors at 15th & Lewis was built as a singular development as a grocery store (Albertsons) with alloted space for a convenience store and Jiffy Lube (Jiffy Lube might have been there before Albertsons).  Braum's already existed when that was still a small residential area and the Jiffy Lube and convenience store, I believe, took the footprint of Impressions restaurant which also existed when there was a small clutch of houses there.

The Jiffy Lube and Braums were already there, Impressions Restaurant and all the houses were bulldozed.
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2009, 05:02:10 pm »

I counted 23 cars at Walgreens (2 are parked around the corner that aren't in the photos), and about 11 at the Drug Warehouse (a few employees' cars are out of the frame).
Walgreen's lots are sized for the one day a year they are most busy. Christmas Eve. There's plenty of parking at the Walgreen's at 91st and Sheridan, yet on Christmas Eve, there was literally one space open when I went there to pick up some photos I had printed there.
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« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2009, 05:09:45 am »

You also have to consider not everyone shows up and leaves at once.  You may only have 10-15 people in the store, but more are in the parking lot leaving and more are in the parking lot arriving.  Not to mention space for delivery trucks and so forth.
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« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2009, 08:26:49 am »

Just to play Devil's advocate (I am no fan of excessive parking requirements), what happens if we cut the size of the Walgreen's parking lot in half? 

I have visited the Walgreen's on Lewis and 71st when the lot was almost completely full.  Walgreen's lots can be tight when traffic is moving two ways and people are slow to find a parking spot.

On such a day with a tight parking situation, how does a fire engine, ambulance maneuver in an emergency?

I actually think Walgreen's does a great job of placing a large capacity facility on a relatively small building/parking footprint while exceeding the highest level of ADA compliance.  They may be a poor example.
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PonderInc
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« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2009, 09:16:40 am »

I was actually using the Walgreens example to illustrate the fact that CVS is crazy to think they need 68 spaces, with double or triple the setback of Walgreens.  (Compared to the CVS plan, Walgreens' parking design is actually pretty good.) 

Unless CVS is going to be giving away free Viagra, they won't need all that parking.

On another point: Yes.  On Christmas eve, the parking can be tight.

But do you want to set parking requirements based on one day a year?  (While the other 364 days, the spots will be vacant.)  This would be the equivalent of staffing a company year-round for the Christmas rush, and letting the employees sit around idle the rest of the year.  Makes no sense. 

In the case of CVS, they tore down 4 residential houses for this PUD (which will eventually--supposedly--include a total of 4 commercial buildings).  Personally, I think there was plenty of room for 4 commercial buildings with shared parking in the existing commercially-zoned corner.  But our excessive parking requirements (and the developer's desire to ADD MORE parking) means that those 4 homes were destroyed FOR PARKING.  (Definition of a PUD: a way to ignore the comprehensive plan and the existing zoning code to turn residential areas into commercial parking lots.)

So, which generates more tax dollars for our city?  4 residences, with families who work and shop in Tulsa and pay property taxes.  Or a bunch of empty parking spaces that will be used once a year, if we're lucky?

As far as encouraging alternative forms of transit, big parking lots basically REQUIRE driving.  (And, thus, the need for more big parking lots!)  If you bring the buildings to the sidewalk, and put the shared parking in the back, you'll make it a lot easier for people to walk or bike to a store.  (And you'll reduce the need for bigger parking lots.)
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« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2009, 09:29:21 am »

I was actually using the Walgreens example to illustrate the fact that CVS is crazy to think they need 68 spaces, with double or triple the setback of Walgreens.  (Compared to the CVS plan, Walgreens' parking design is actually pretty good.) 

Unless CVS is going to be giving away free Viagra, they won't need all that parking.

On another point: Yes.  On Christmas eve, the parking can be tight.

But do you want to set parking requirements based on one day a year?  (While the other 364 days, the spots will be vacant.)  This would be the equivalent of staffing a company year-round for the Christmas rush, and letting the employees sit around idle the rest of the year.  Makes no sense. 

In the case of CVS, they tore down 4 residential houses for this PUD (which will eventually--supposedly--include a total of 4 commercial buildings).  Personally, I think there was plenty of room for 4 commercial buildings with shared parking in the existing commercially-zoned corner.  But our excessive parking requirements (and the developer's desire to ADD MORE parking) means that those 4 homes were destroyed FOR PARKING.  (Definition of a PUD: a way to ignore the comprehensive plan and the existing zoning code to turn residential areas into commercial parking lots.)

So, which generates more tax dollars for our city?  4 residences, with families who work and shop in Tulsa and pay property taxes.  Or a bunch of empty parking spaces that will be used once a year, if we're lucky?

As far as encouraging alternative forms of transit, big parking lots basically REQUIRE driving.  (And, thus, the need for more big parking lots!)  If you bring the buildings to the sidewalk, and put the shared parking in the back, you'll make it a lot easier for people to walk or bike to a store.  (And you'll reduce the need for bigger parking lots.)


Very true. 
Unfortunately we are fat and lazy, and that likely won't happen.
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« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2009, 12:47:32 pm »

But do you want to set parking requirements based on one day a year? 
No, but I think we should allow on street parking in more places. That would be even less popular amongst the park-next-to-the-door crowd.
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« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2009, 01:42:45 pm »

No, but I think we should allow on street parking in more places. That would be even less popular amongst the park-next-to-the-door crowd.

Screw 'em.  We shouldn't be catering to the fat and lazy.  I say if you're obese you should have to park the furthest away from a building as possible.  One of my favorite quotes, and so true:

Anyplace worth its salt has a "parking problem." -James Castle, public policy consultant
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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2009, 02:11:46 pm »

They are catering to customers, they should be doing what they believe to be the optimal amount of money spent on parking to keep their customers happy (and coming back).

We can just make it illegal to park on the street downtown.  Charge $50 an hour to park in any city owned parking garages.  Then Tulsa and downtown especially will be the pinnacle of greatness.  What the hell did we spend all that money on an Arena when all we had to do was restrict parking...
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« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2009, 09:28:29 am »

Review Donald Shoup, The High Cost of Free Parking, Chicago: Planners Press, 2005.

http://www.streetfilms.org/archives/dr-shoup-parking-guru/
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