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Thread: Parking ratio study

  1. #1
    Member rocketjim's avatar
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    Parking ratio study

    I am trying to convince a township that an apartment complex can be parked at a lower rate than 2 per unit (preferably 1.75). Half of the units are 1 BR. I have looked for a study from ULI to see if they have something that shows that you don't need that much parking, and I haven't found a pure study, just guidelines. The apartment complex is only a quarter mile from a bus stop. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Big Owl's avatar
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    I would look at similar projects and count cars at various times of the day and night as well. I would also look at demographics for similar areas in figure what precentage rides the bus in your area. You can use a study from out side your community or region but i have found if you can use cases that the decision makers are familar with that that some times is the most effective. Unfortunately doing your own study, even a rudementry one will take some time, which you might not have.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Don't know of a study, just guidelines.

    Can you convince them to put some of their desired parking spaces into a greenbelt/lawn area, and if in the future they determine they are needed they can then build them at that time?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Try

    Counting on street parking, if there is any in the area......as long as its not dedicated or needs to be dedicated for business, I'd say go with the 1.75 and show that additional parking is in the area........Keep up the good fight and don't listen to all those code officers in your department that are screaming about parking problems......they're just lazy and don't want the extra work
    Skilled Adoxographer

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Is there any on-street parking available? We look at that as mitigating deficencies in off-street parking, although we don't count those spaces in the overall space count. If there's on-street parking, though, it helps if the future residents have guests, etc.
    I don't dream. I plan.

  6. #6
    We just did something very similar to this. Ours was a proposed 37 unit work force housing development that also had some retail and commercial space. The proposal was asking for variances in density, parking, as well as setbacks. In addition, the developer wanted the commercial/retail space to share parking with the residential space.

    First step is to look at census data. Look for Auto ownership by tenure which will give you the cars/household for renters and home owners.

    Next step is to look at the distribution of vehicle ownership for rental units in the community. Should show you how many rental households have particular numbers of vehicles.

    Third thing to look for is the distribution of apartment size for rental units in the community. Will show you how many apartments of each size (bedrooms) that you have in the community.

    Using the above, we were able to show that the average renter household in the community owns 1.2 vehicles vs. 1.9 vehicles per owner household, and that 66% of all renters in the community own one or fewer vehicles and only 4% owning more than 2 vehicles.

    Further as the census data represents all rental units, depending on the distribution, your average vehicle ownership for apartments could be higher than what a 1 bedroom apartment might actually generate.

    We were backed up by a local Workforce Housing Coalition that provided us data regarding some of their properties that were similar in size and type to the proposed complex. Their average vehicle ownership for 1 bedroom apartments was something around .9 per unit. Unfortunately, the zoning board refused to look at the facts presented in this case and instead relied on the "feelings" of the "real people" who attended the hearing (not us professionals - we're not real) to deny the project. I think the project was just asking for too much in the way of variances for the ZBA to handle.

    I can email you/pm you the memo I did for this project if you want.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Margin Walker
    We just did something very similar to this. Ours was a proposed 37 unit work force housing development that also had some retail and commercial space. The proposal was asking for variances in density, parking, as well as setbacks. In addition, the developer wanted the commercial/retail space to share parking with the residential space.

    First step is to look at census data. Look for Auto ownership by tenure which will give you the cars/household for renters and home owners.

    Next step is to look at the distribution of vehicle ownership for rental units in the community. Should show you how many rental households have particular numbers of vehicles.

    Third thing to look for is the distribution of apartment size for rental units in the community. Will show you how many apartments of each size (bedrooms) that you have in the community.

    Using the above, we were able to show that the average renter household in the community owns 1.2 vehicles vs. 1.9 vehicles per owner household, and that 66% of all renters in the community own one or fewer vehicles and only 4% owning more than 2 vehicles.

    Further as the census data represents all rental units, depending on the distribution, your average vehicle ownership for apartments could be higher than what a 1 bedroom apartment might actually generate.

    We were backed up by a local Workforce Housing Coalition that provided us data regarding some of their properties that were similar in size and type to the proposed complex. Their average vehicle ownership for 1 bedroom apartments was something around .9 per unit. Unfortunately, the zoning board refused to look at the facts presented in this case and instead relied on the "feelings" of the "real people" who attended the hearing (not us professionals - we're not real) to deny the project. I think the project was just asking for too much in the way of variances for the ZBA to handle.

    I can email you/pm you the memo I did for this project if you want.
    Good advice. The problem with more general estimation techniques (or simply pulling a number from thin air or borrowing one from another community) is that there can be substantial differences. In congested places with good transit you would expect to find lower rates of car ownership. That does not apply (believe me) in a rural college town. Four cars per two bedroom apartment is not to be unexpected.

    As for counting on-street parking, that is touchy. It is usually because the home owning neighbors do not want parking on their streets, or are already competing for spaces, that they will want to have the complex meet all of its conceivable needs and more.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  8. #8
    We'll often grant variances from 2/du if: more than 3/4 of the units are 1 br, or, if the housing is designed for the elderly (must be approved or assisted by HUD to qualify). Under no circumstances can on-street parking relieve the need for off-street parking.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  9. #9
    Cyburbian brian_w's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    Don't know of a study, just guidelines.

    Can you convince them to put some of their desired parking spaces into a greenbelt/lawn area, and if in the future they determine they are needed they can then build them at that time?
    Two things we do that may help, along these lines. First, in our lakefront redevelopment area, we only require 1 space for a 1 bedroom apartment and 2 spaces for 2 bedrooms and above, which probably works out to 1.75 spaces per unit when you break it all down. No complaints so far, but there is on street parking.

    I like the suggestion above, and we have this requirement in our elderly housing district. We require 1 space per unit as well as setting aside 1 additional space per unit in green area if the units are ever converted to conventional multi-family. Again, no complaints.

    I agree that you should keep fighting the good fight. Developers and others that complain they need so much excessive parking really make me mad.
    You only need two tools: WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian MayorMatty's avatar
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    Consider the trip generation too in your argument

    The ITE Trip Generation manual illustrates that apartments generate only 6.3 average daily car trips while single-family detached homes generate 10.0. (ITE Trip Generation. 6th Ed.vol 1. 1997.) You simply don't need two spaces for apartments ,it is an inefficient use of land.

    Quote Originally posted by rocketjim
    I am trying to convince a township that an apartment complex can be parked at a lower rate than 2 per unit (preferably 1.75). Half of the units are 1 BR. I have looked for a study from ULI to see if they have something that shows that you don't need that much parking, and I haven't found a pure study, just guidelines. The apartment complex is only a quarter mile from a bus stop. Any thoughts?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mayor Matty
    The ITE Trip Generation manual illustrates that apartments generate only 6.3 average daily car trips while single-family detached homes generate 10.0. (ITE Trip Generation. 6th Ed.vol 1. 1997.) You simply don't need two spaces for apartments ,it is an inefficient use of land.
    Ever lived/worked in a college town? An expensive community where several people share an apartment? The ITE manual is a generalization, and it is much better to estimate using available data specific to the community.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian MayorMatty's avatar
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    I agree

    I agree. A place-based analysis is more appropriate, when you have the time to do it.
    This person wants quick help with the argument to justify reducing parking requirements so I'm helping.

    PS - Furthermore I'd appreciate some courtesy sir. I've lived in several college towns namely Ithaca, Boston, and Buffalo. You bet they need parking, but sometimes we completely overdo it, especially when public transit is available (as is the case cited).
    PPS - The ITE manual is completely applicable when you need a comparative tool for traffic generation/demand between one use versus another use. If it weren't, 25,000 traffic engineers and 50 state DOT's would be in big trouble by now.

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    Ever lived/worked in a college town? An expensive community where several people share an apartment? The ITE manual is a generalization, and it is much better to estimate using available data specific to the community.

  13. #13
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mayor Matty
    PPS - The ITE manual is completely applicable when you need a comparative tool for traffic generation/demand between one use versus another use. If it weren't, 25,000 traffic engineers and 50 state DOT's would be in big trouble by now.

    I'm not sure your PPS supports your argument with planners, many of us would argue that these folks do have it wrong...
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  14. #14
    Cyburbian MayorMatty's avatar
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    Get Real, ITE has practical results

    So Cardinal does a study and finds apartments need somewhere between 0.9 and 1.2 parking spaces, not the typical 2 spaces for a single family home.

    And the ITE manual shows apartments generate 6.3 trips versus 10.0 trips of a SF home, which is roughly the same ratio Cardinal comes up with.

    And yet the ITE is just a "generalization" (Cardinal), produced by folks who "have it wrong" (giff57)?

    Get real. There's a very good reason why the ITE manual is used by professional traffic engineers, because it is relevant. The facts speak for themselves.


    Quote Originally posted by giff57
    I'm not sure your PPS supports your argument with planners, many of us would argue that these folks do have it wrong...

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