Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Parking Requirements Killing Downtown Langley and Fort Langley

When looking at the walkable places that we love in Langley, there is one thing that they have in common. They all would not meeting the minimum off-street parking requirement if these places where built today. For example, under current City of Langley minimum parking requirements, the built form of the Downtown Langley core would not be possible. If a business owner or land developer wanted to construct a new building, they would need to have the same parking requirements as the Langley Bypass.

For retails uses, the bylaw requires about 3 spaces for every 1000 square feet of retail floor space. Put another way, the City of Langley requires 713 square feet of parking for every 1000 square feet of retail floor space! The City of Langley even allows surface parking lots in its Downtown zone, so it's no surprise that we get projects like the casino which actually destroy the walkability of Downtown Langley.

The Township of Langley requires about 4.5 parking spaces for every 1000 square feet of retail floor space in all parts of the community except for Fort Langley which is 50% of the standard requirements. At 2.25 parking spaces for every 1000 square feet, the parking requirement is still onerous.

The thing about off-street parking requirements is that they are arbitrary. Why does Downtown Langley, which is on the frequent transit network and within an easy walk of higher density housing, have the same off-street parking requirements as the Langley Bypass? It makes no sense.

Do you know where the City and Township of Langley get their parking requirements from? The requirements are likely directly or indirectly from the ITE Parking Generation Manual which is based on limited samplings of parking use in auto-oriented areas. Ironically, the manual shows weak correlation between the square footage of use space and needed parking. If you look at walkable places like Fort Langley and Downtown Langley, they function because buildings do not meet the minimum off-street parking requirements.

Minimum off-street parking requirements are limiting and killing infill development opportunities and restoration projects that would improve the walkability and vitality of areas like Fort Langley, Downtown Langley, and Aldergrove. Parking spaces aren’t cheap, an underground parking spot can cost between $20,000 to $40,000. This cost limits the viability of build walkable one or two-storey retail/mixed-use buildings. A major renovation of a building in Downtown Langley could trigger the City's onerous off-street parking requirements.

In Vernon, where I grew up, the city had no off-street parking requirements in the Downtown core. The City used parking meters to regulate on-street parking.

I strongly believe that both the City and Township of Langley need to examine their minimum parking requirements in their walkable cores if they truly care about preserving and growing these special places.

No comments: