Monday, July 28, 2008

Salt Lake Planning Policy Experiences an Attitude Adjustment

Council devises formulae for trading off parking slots with "walkability" amenities

Interesting editorial in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune, regarding a bold new Salt Lake City Council policy which we'll for the time being label "experimental." This morning's lead paragraphs provide the gist:

Is it possible the "age of the automobile" is coming to an end?
Probably not anytime soon. Nonetheless, Salt Lake City recognizes the benefits of neighborhood business districts with fewer motorists and more cyclists, walkers and TRAX and bus riders, and is doing something about it.
In a move that would have seemed heretical if not downright deranged a decade ago, the Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously to change the city's rules to require small businesses to provide fewer parking stalls and more bike racks, benches, scooter stalls and baby-buggy areas.
But it's more than a rule change; it's evidence of an attitude shift. City Council members can foresee the effects of more cars and more miles driven in city neighborhoods: unhealthy air, traffic congestion, ugly expanses of asphalt. And they have decided to be proactive to discourage driving, a decision that can only be a good thing for Utah's capital, where the air is already a health hazard during inversions.
The rule change will require businesses to provide two parking stalls per 1,000 square feet of floor space for a restaurant or small business. But owners can avoid that requirement by adding pedestrian-friendly amenities and controlling parking around their businesses.
The article goes on to describe various formulae for trading off parking slots with various "walkability" amenities, unto the point where some businesses, under a proper set of circumstances, could be let "off the hook" for automobile parking requirements entirely.

Lots of interesting questions arise from this circumstance, we think.

Will businesses who avail themselves of these rule exemptions experience a commensurate reduction in business patronage? Is it still too early in the gas price crisis to pry most folks from their cars? Will downtown or neighborhood entrepreneurs even have the courage to risk their future business incomes on a auto unfriendly concept that some might even now deem "deranged?" Does the SLCity council deserve a Weber County Forum hat tip for taking action on a revolutionary public policy such as this? Is a forward thinking policy like this something that could ever happen in MattGodfreyWorld? So many questions; so few answers. And here's one more for our readers' contemplation:

Lots of fun living in the post-Peak Oil period, ainnit?

Don't let the cat get yer tongues.


The Foil said...

This new SLC Council isn't necessarily deranged.

Why not let entreprenuers build out their leased or owned properties, without regard to attached parking spaces with onerous restrictions? This concept is well demonstrated thouhout human history.

If "yo" take on risk... sometimes you'll fail.

The "Modern Iron Hand" of Adam Smith's free market pace will never be fulfilled, because of meatheads like those Stalinists on the Salt Lake City Council.

Trust me. This latest story is NOT good news.

Bill C. said...

I, wonder if Ogdens' loss of an urban gondola and the worlds first gondola hotel due to lack of required parking spaces factored into this decision? Afterall, we could've had the worlds first and really been on the map.
I wonder if Myler has been courting the SLC council? They have much deeper pockets than Ogden, Clearfield and Orem. They are all ready on the map and it wouldn't be as big a stretch to go from obscurity to first class high adventure outdoor/indoor, and mostly artificial world renown.
How many bowling alleys are in SLC?

Charleton Hummer said...

I'll give you my gas guzzling SUV when you take the keys from my cold, dead hands!

I'll NEVER patronize a business where I can't park three and a half tons of iron directly out front!

Wade said...

Whoo-Hoo, this is great news!

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