Dallas debates update of 1965 off street parking rules

Current off-street parking rules were developed when the city had more land to spare for cars.

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Dallas City Council Members called for action on an update of the 1965 rules for off-street parking on Wednesday.

After four years of discussion at lower levels of Dallas City Government, five members of the City Council asked for the briefing that was presented Wednesday.

The Dallas Zoning Ordinance Advisory Commission (ZOAC) has held many meetings on the topic.

“So I think we need to have it fish or cut bait,” Council Member Paula Blackmon said.

In some places, there’s too much parking. In others, there is not enough.

On Gramercy Oaks Drive in Far North Dallas, many vehicles park on the city street because there are not enough off-street spaces in the residential developments there.

City Council Member Cara Mendelsohn said much of her District 12 has that problem.

“Sometimes there’s 3 or 4 adults in a one-bedroom apartment because this is how people are surviving in Dallas today.  So, we are way underpaid in most of it,” Mendelsohn said.

Both the Fire and Police Chiefs confirmed problems on streets that were not designed for so much on-street parking.

Dallas requires one off-street space per bedroom of residential development.

The code was developed in 1965 when Dallas had much more open space for parking.

But that may be more than what’s needed today in places with fewer cars, like neighborhoods surrounding the downtown area where infill development is being encouraged in smaller spaces.

“We’re still using a code that was based on our city in 1965,” North Oak Cliff Councilman Chad West said.

Andreea Udrea, the Dallas Assistant Director of Planning and Urban Design, is overseeing the off-street parking ordinance reform.

“We need to have a code to enable the growth, based on the needs of today’s city,” she said.

Elmwood in Oak Cliff is a neighborhood where businesses have struggled to open existing storefront locations because of the parking requirements.

They do not support the idea of a walkable neighborhood, which Elmwood was even before the 1965 parking code that promoted large parking lots.

West said vacant parking lots near downtown Dallas might see more new development if less parking is required.

“It’s lost revenue to the city from low commercial use and it’s lost opportunity for housing,” West said.

However, members from different parts of Dallas have differing views on solutions.

“I agree that this is not a situation where one size fits all. It is a very diverse city,” Councilman Paul Ridley said.

More discussion is planned but the goal mentioned Wednesday is a plan for city council approval of reform of the 1965 parking code, by the end of 2023.

Separately, Dallas is also debating new regulations for on-street parking that could increase fees for parking meters and eliminate some spaces to move traffic in business areas.

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