HUDSON — The Friendly City could soon become a little friendlier to new businesses if it joins dozens of cities across the U.S. in dropping off-street parking requirements.
The Common Council unanimously approved a zoning amendment to eliminate off-street parking requirements at its last regular meeting, with the exception of 4th Ward Alderman John Rosenthal, who was absent.
Mayor Rick Rector will hold a public hearing on the proposed law on June 10 at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 520 Warren St. At that time, the public will be able to comment. After the hearing, the mayor will have three days to decide whether to sign the resolution into law.
If enacted, the proposed law would eliminate a major barrier for business looking to set up shop in Hudson.
At the present time, a property owner or developer who goes before the city Planning Board must meet the minimum off-street parking requirements outlined in the city code based on the type of business. For example, the Hudson code requires one parking space for every three seats at an eatery or drink spot and one parking space for every five seats at a movie or live theater.
Eliminating minimum parking requirements is a trend that other municipalities have enacted to great success, Planning Board Chairman Walter Chatham said.
In 2017, Buffalo eliminated minimum parking requirements citywide with one sentence: “There are no provisions that establish a minimum number of off-street parking spaces for development.” The city has not looked back.
Hudson’s proposed law reads, “Parcels of real property to be developed within the City of Hudson shall not be required to establish a minimum number of accessory off-street parking spaces.”
One only needs to drive up Columbia Street to see that the number of parking lots and spaces available far exceed what’s necessary, Chatham said.
“We have a vast number of surface lots that are rarely full,” Chatham said.
Mandating parking space also causes some smaller or ancillary buildings to be demolished to ensure there are parking spaces, Chatham said.
Renters also could end up losing housing opportunities when homes are torn down to make room for parking.
The city of Sandpoint, Idaho, population just over 7,000 (slightly larger than Hudson), did away with off-street parking minimums about a decade ago. Aaron Qualls, the director of Planning and Community Development, wrote an essay about the results for Strong Towns, a nonprofit that explores ways to help cities thrive.
“Since that contentious decision by the Sandpoint City Council, millions have been invested downtown projects that would not have been feasible, but for the elimination of parking requirements,” Qualls wrote. “Several jobs, building renovations and expansions by local businesses were essentially made possible by adding a single line of code.”
Rosenthal and DePietro worked to draft the law. DePietro did not respond to a request for comment.
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