Dallas Zoning Committee Advances Parking Reform

Parking lot
Parking lot | Image by non c/Shutterstock

Local officials are one step closer to eliminating minimum parking requirements in Dallas.

Dallas’ Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee (ZOAC) voted last week to advance a proposal that would eliminate minimum parking requirements across Dallas, a decision that has received mixed reactions from advocates and critics alike.

While District 1 Council Member Chad West believes the change will cut down on unused parking spaces and accelerate economic development, District 12 Council Member Cara Mendelsohn believes a one-size-fits-all approach to reform is not an ideal solution to the city’s parking dilemma, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Though Dallas’ antiquated parking code has caused enormous amounts of waste, ZOAC member Enrique MacGregor said shifting the responsibility of parking requirements from the local government to private developers could help fix the problem.

If the parking reform is given the green light by the City Plan Commission and subsequently approved by the Dallas City Council later this year, MacGregor said the change would simply shift the decision-making process from the government to the free market, KERA News reported.

If the market gets it wrong by underestimating or overestimating the parking spots necessary for customers or tenants, MacGregor claims it is the developer who will pay the price.

“You’re not going to go to a restaurant that doesn’t have enough parking when there’s another one down the block that has sufficient parking,” he explained, per KERA.

According to MacGregor, a lot of valuable real estate sits idle and unproductive due to the sheer number of empty parking spaces scattered around the city of Dallas. In general, MacGregor said minimum parking standards reduce a city’s tax base, contribute to higher housing costs, and cause billions of dollars to be tied up in unproductive assets.

Since the committee moved the proposal forward, the next step is to receive approval from the Dallas City Plan Commission before advancing for a final vote from the Dallas City Council.

City Plan Commissioner Melissa Kingston said she generally supports the parking reform but believes a hasty decision could lead to problems down the road, particularly if various exceptions are not made in certain categories.

“According to our City Attorney’s Office — and I agree with this assessment — if we eliminate all our parking minimums and we decide that in certain categories we have made a mistake, we are going to have a very difficult time reinstating those,” Kingston said, per CandysDirt.com.

Dallas resident Ed Zahra said he disagrees with the logic behind the city’s proposal.

“By design, current parking minimums limit how much density can be developed on a space, which directly affects the infrastructure,” Zahra said, per CandysDirt.com. “[Parking minimums] need to be an integral part of any new parking management policy instead of being kicked to the curb.”

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