St. Paul (June 16, 2010) – After a year long study, the City Council approved new parking regulations tonight. This is the first overhaul of the regulations since they were introduced in 1975. The requirements simplify the parking code, enhance parking lot design and consolidate and reduce requirements for most uses.
The previous regulations required a different number of parking spots per square foot of building, depending on the type of business use. The new regulations set the number of parking spots required at one per 400 square feet for most business uses.
“Requiring fewer parking spaces and making the standard equal for Saint Paul businesses is a great step forward for the City. These changes will help Saint Paul attract small businesses and allow for more development by existing businesses. This is essential for future economic development and furthers Saint Paul as the most livable city in America,” Mayor Chris Coleman said.
This change will be significant for attracting small businesses. For example, an insurance company moving into a space once used as a hardware store would have previously needed to provide more parking spaces based on the different specifications, sometimes causing the new company not to rent the space. By leveling requirements for business and office uses, this issue is resolved.
The study sought input from neighborhood organizations and business groups to develop the new regulations. The previous regulations were based on suburban parking standards where alternative transportation is less available, creating the need for residents to drive more places. With alternative transportation readily available in the Metro, less people need to drive, meaning fewer parking spaces are necessary.
“These changes better reflect the reality that in St. Paul we walk, bicycle, take transit, carpool and use a car-share to our destinations, as well as drive,” says councilmember Russ Stark. “The changes will also reduce the blight, urban heat island effect, and detrimental impacts on water quality of large surface parking lots”.
Groups included in the study were the Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce, Saint Paul Port Authority, Saint Paul Business Review Council, Smart Trips board of directors, neighborhood organizations, among others.
“I think the business community and neighborhoods will be pleased that we’re simplifying what was a very complex parking code, reducing our requirements to better meet the demand that really exists” says Cecile Bedor, director, Saint Paul Planning and Economic Development.
Looking to the future of parking, a separate study of downtown Saint Paul is being conducted as the new regulations only affect surrounding neighborhoods. Some areas of study are new parking meters and review of on street parking restrictions, signing and time limits. Recommendations should be ready later this year. A study about parking and licensing is on the horizon for businesses with liquor and entertainment licenses as well.