Mobile, AL considers instituting parking minimums

August 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

Neither Tuscaloosa nor Auburn—two cities in Alabama with significant college populations—have special zoning regulating parking for student housing, so why does Mobile farther south want to deviate from the norm?

“Students require more parking spaces than our current code requires,” says Mobile councilmember Bess Rich, though she doesn’t cite supporting evidence.

Mobile, AL skyline at night

At a time when cities are starting to consider rolling back parking minimums, Mobile is putting them forward as a policy proposal. How come? From Tim Parker

Rich’s argument rests on the case of The Edge, a student housing development in west Mobile near the University of South Alabama (USA). Because The Edge was privately developed and thus outside the university system, its residents haven’t been allowed to park on campus. They were instead parking at the Mobile Festival Centre lot more than three miles away. Besides being inconvenient, the situation created safety issues.

But owners of The Edge have since come up with another solution. They bought the vacant Anders Bookstore and converted it into a parking lot in response to the outcry over inadequate parking at the development.

Their efforts were not enough for Rich, who represents the area near The Edge and nearby neighborhoods. She’s pushing the city council to create a special zoning overlay for student apartment housing or other regulation specific to parking near the USA, Spring Hill College, or other universities.

The city council appears to at least be considering Rich’s suggestion. City staff presented the council with a proposed revision to the zoning code that would require more parking at multifamily residences throughout Mobile. It did not call out special regulations for areas near universities or colleges.

Currently, the zoning code requires building owners to provide 1.5 parking spaces per family dwelling unit throughout the city. Under the proposed revisions, developers would instead be required to provide one space per bedroom within a multifamily unit. They would also need to provide an added 10 percent of the total amount of parking spots within the apartment complex, except for complexes within Hank Aaron Loop.

For example, a six-unit multifamily building with a mix of one- to four-bedroom units must currently provide—at a minimum—nine parking spaces. Under the proposed change, the same building with the same mix of bedrooms could possibly be required to offer a minimum of fifteen parking spaces.

Rich said she was glad that the administration of Mayor Sandy Stimpson was open to her suggestions and that the issue might be incorporated within the long-range planning process that the Mobile Planning Commission is getting ready to launch.

“I look forward to hearing back from [Mayor Stimpson] and moving in the direction of having a code which handles the parking needs of student housing in our city,” she said.

The city council deferred to vote on the proposals presented by city staff until its meeting on October 7.

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Category: Miscellaneous, Regulations

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