Friday, January 16, 2009

Parking Requirements (or not) in the IFSA

The Planning Commission heard recommendations last week from the City Council’s Environment and Public Works Committee and the City Manager to eliminate parking minimums and maximums in the International Financial Services Area (IFSA) downtown. The draft amendment was approved to move forward by the Planning Commission, and they will hold a public comment session on February 4th. The City Council is expected to hear public comment on the proposal in April.

The IFSA, as you might guess, is the area between 8th and 15th, Commerce Street and I-705. So what does this recommendation mean? Basically, there are current minimum and maximum parking requirements for new development, and lifting those regulations would allow for a market-based approach to determining the number of off-street parking stalls that accompany new development in the IFSA.

And why might this change matter? The proposal cites two overarching reasons. The first is that eliminating parking minimums and maximums in this area would be an added draw for potential developers. Land availability, strict development restrictions, and limited parking options are common challenges for those looking to develop in urban areas, and this could provide an additional incentive to move to Tacoma.

The second reason is largely environmental. The proposal follows the City’s Green Ribbon Climate Action Task Force recommendation to focus planning and zoning decisions on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Eliminating parking minimums will discourage single-occupancy vehicles and encourage transit and non-motorized transportation, which is good for business as well as the environment.

The Planning Commission Public Hearing will be February 4th at 5:00 pm at the City Council Chambers in the Tacoma Municipal Building (747 Market Street, 1st floor). Click here for more information.

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