Goal: Promote Equitable Transit-Oriented Development - Recommendation 3: Proactively Address Parking Implications

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Parking is often a concern for existing residents of areas seeking TOD. Anticipating that potential residents will own fewer cars since they will be located close to convenient transit service, TOD projects typically offer fewer off-street parking spaces than would a project located far from transit. The City of Chicago TOD ordinance leverages this trend to reduce per-unit parking requirements, allowing developers to use more of a building’s space for residential or commercial tenants. Existing residents often express concern that because a new development offers less off-street parking, its residents will park on adjacent streets, increasing competition for limited on-street parking. However, by appealing to potential tenants who do not own a car or would prefer not to own a car, TOD projects may not increase demand for on-street parking, and strategies exist to prevent and mitigate additional demand. Developers and community organizations should be proactive about potential parking concerns, drawing on best practices from TOD projects in Chicago and elsewhere. The plan will include examples of pricing and residential parking permit approaches, as well as other parking management strategies for balancing the needs of current residents while still pursuing TOD.

Conduct outreach to identify resident and business concerns

Water Main Construction 35th Street Hermitage Avenue 20181016From "Water Main Work to Upend Roads, Traffic, Parking on 35th, Marshfield and Hermitage," published October 17, 2018, in the McKinley Park News.Community engagement that seeks stakeholder input can identify areas in the community where parking is in high demand. Local residents are often very knowledgeable about the busiest streets and the busiest times of day for parking, as well as where parking is in high demand for commuters, customers of businesses, and other visitors. Effective outreach can also help educate communities about the inherent trade-offs of different parking policies and strategies, giving them an opportunity to work together to identify shared priorities and preferred strategies going forward.

To plan for parking, it is crucial to accurately assess current parking conditions and have a clear understanding of resident perceptions on the issue. CMAP has developed a Parking Strategies toolkit that provides a step-by-step guide for communities to create and conduct comprehensive parking surveys and engage in effective public outreach. But these studies require considerable time and resources. If limited resources and time make a full-scale parking inventory study too difficult to accomplish, the community can consult the toolkit’s guidance on conducting a smaller study of parking spaces and regulations, which can be incredibly useful but easier to implement.

Partner with new TOD property managers to mitigate new parking demands

Reducing new demand is the first course of action for better parking management. Even if TOD provides less off-street parking for residents, developers can provide benefits for riding transit, biking, walking, or carsharing to attract potential tenants who prefer non-car-dependent lifestyles. The City’s TOD ordinance also supports the inclusion of active transportation facilities like bicycle parking by requiring developments taking advantage of TOD bonuses to address parking demand. The following strategies should supplement parking management strategies identified through the parking study, but can also be applied as a standalone set of recommendations to curb future demand.

Apply parking management best practices

Even with high demand for on-street parking, several parking management strategies exist to extend the capacity of the existing supply. Even at times when drivers cannot find parking, there are often spaces that are not being used. Difficulty in finding them may be the result of a lack of information or of policies that do not offer enough flexibility. Applying parking management best practices can help a community take better advantage of currently underutilized spaces and reduce competition for highly sought-after parking spaces. If the demand for parking increases, there are several options to alleviate competition.

Improve signage and use apps to clearly indicate where parking is available

Clear and easily accessible information can help drivers find parking to suit their needs and alert them to open spaces at nearby parking lots or facilities. The community can work with the city and aldermen to create and disperse signage throughout the neighborhood to highlight different types of parking areas and underutilized lots. As much of commercial and private parking information and reservation services are available online through apps like SpotHero, organizations such as MPDC or the alderman’s office can also help market these technologies to promote awareness and usage.

Allow shared parking arrangements

Nearby businesses and institutions can share parking spaces if they each require parking at different times of the day or different days of the week. For example, TOD developments can share parking with nearby office buildings or commercial establishments so that commuters can park at night while employees and customers can park during business hours. Additionally, several churches near station areas have private parking spaces, which can be used on weekdays. Organizations like MPDC and the alderman can play a role in facilitating connections between local parking lot owners and partnering with programs like SpotHero to incorporate reserved spaces for shared parking.

Offer transit passes or bike-share membership as part of rent

Developers can choose to offer a complimentary or discounted transit pass or bike-share membership to tenants. Divvy already has a Corporate Membership program that provides partner organizations with discounts for employees, residents, and members. Including these benefits in rent can encourage tenants to commute and travel by biking or transit and lower the demand for parking spaces.

Provide bicycle parking or storage in developments

Several surveys and studies from across the country have shown that secure bicycle parking and storage is one of the top factors contributing to bike ridership. The TOD ordinance requires developments taking advantage of parking reductions to provide at least one bicycle parking space for each automobile parking space that would otherwise be constructed and additionally waives the “no more than 50 bicycle parking spaces per building” limit. Fully utilizing parking reductions and providing an appropriate number of bicycle parking and storage can significantly bring down the cost of development and mitigate new parking demand.

Consider using the residential parking permit system to manage parking

One of the greatest concerns of existing residents is that the reduced number of off-street parking spaces for new TOD residents would increase the competition for on-street parking. If the results of the parking study indicate a need for better residential permit parking management or anticipate greater demand than the supply allows, stakeholders can work with aldermen to explore additional restrictions. In some recent TOD projects in Chicago, a clause in the leasing agreement restricts tenants from receiving residential parking permits on neighboring streets. By attracting tenants who prefer to walk, bike, and take public transit, these developments have filled their units despite the restriction on parking permits.

Case Study: 1611 W. Division (Wicker Park, Chicago)

The 1611 W. Division apartments in Wicker Park, located at the intersection of Division Street and Ashland Avenue, are an example of TOD that has successfully applied many of the parking strategies discussed in this chapter. Steps away from the Division CTA Blue Line station, and close to six bus stops and a Divvy station, the apartments were designed and marketed specifically to cater to tenants attracted to a walkable environment and car-free lifestyle. Instead of parking spaces for cars, the building offers 100 bicycle parking spaces and a carshare vehicle with a discounted membership. To promote transit use, a monitor in the lobby provides CTA Bus and Train Tracker times. Additionally, a clause in the leasing agreement makes tenants ineligible for residential parking permits on neighboring streets.

Through the combination of incentives and regulations to mitigate the creation of new parking demand, the 1611 W. Division development has had minimal effects on parking congestion and spillover parking in the neighborhood. As tenants choose the building for its convenience to transit and multiple mobility options, the lack of parking has also not served as a disincentive for leasing.

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