Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Council To Consider Townwide Parking Code Tonight

Staff: "Current codes are outdated"
It's been many years since the town's rules regarding parking lots and their use has been examined. This, according to the meeting notice posted regarding tonight's Town of Oro Valley Council Meeting. Town staff has proposed in four areas

Standardizes parking space requirements throughout town, overriding current PAD specific parking space requirements
A PAD is a planned area of the town that it's own zoning requirements.  The town has ten PAD's. Nine of these have their own parking standards. 

Town staff wants the town's proposed town-wide parking codes to supersede these. "The proposed amendment for the majority of these PADs only remove references to exact parking ratios; doing so allows the Town's off-street parking standards to take effect." 

In some instances, the code change would increase the number of parking spaces required.  Using the very small parking lot at Noble Hopes (Lamber Lane and La Canada) staff notes that "This PAD currently requires one (1) parking space per 200 square feet of restaurant floor area, or five (5) spaces per 1,000 square feet. Comparatively, the Town standard is 10 spaces per 1,000 square feet, double the current PAD requirement.

There is no information provided in the meeting materials that indicates that the homeowners associations that govern the PAD approve of this change.

Makes "Alternative Parking Lot Uses" permanent
The proposed zoning change would include the addition of alternative uses of parking lots. For example, conducting exercise classes in parking lots or eating on restaurant tables in the parking lot, now "Covid-19" allowable uses, would be allowed as part of the code.  

The justification: Staff conducted a survey of 68 town based businesses.  "Approximately 70% of respondents favoring the alternative use of parking areas."

According to staff: "Some of these uses were temporarily granted as part of the response to COVID-19 and have helped local businesses adapt to evolving consumer buying habits. This proposed amendment supports the long-term success of Oro Valley businesses and increases the community's ability to create and access unique gathering spaces and a range of public activities."

Simplifies, more clearly defines parking space requirements
The proposed zoning code change includes a detailed "parking table." This schedule details the number of spaces required based on type of establishment that uses it. For example, movie theaters would be required to provide one parking space for every three seats. A senior care independent living facility would need three parking spaces for every four units. 

According to town staff, this eleven page parking table document simplifies what is in place today. "While the Town has over 80 separate permitted/conditional uses, the current parking table has 23 categories, leaving the parking ratio for many permitted uses reliant on subjective determination during the early stages of the development process. This amendment additionally reduces the need for these subjective determinations by providing a clear parking ratio for each use in the Permitted Use Table."

Gives staff authority to permit "minor" variations
"Currently, parking required by the Zoning Code represents both a maximum and minimum number of spaces required for each use. When a project seeks an alternative amount of parking, the code allows for Alternative Parking Ratios which must be approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission, regardless of the amount being reduced or increased." 

Under the proposed revision to the Alternative Parking Ratio process, town staff would have the the authority to perming alternative parking ratios that are less than a 10% increase in parking spaces, or a less than a 20% reduction in parking spaces.