City of Duluth Planning Commission proposes updates to UDC parking requirements

[anvplayer video=”5192983″ station=”998130″]

The City of Duluth Planning Commission held a public meeting on Wednesday to discuss a proposal to change parking regulations

“We require off-street parking on any given parcel when someone comes to develop something, and so we have a set of standards for how obviously parking is handled,” said Planning and Economic Development Deputy Director Adam Fulton. “The proposed modifications would eliminate parking minimum requirements. So when you came to develop something, the goal would be to construct just as much parking as you need without establishing a locally mandated minimum amount of parking.”

At the meeting, Fulton highlighted Duluth transit systems and expressed that the proposal does not mean an automatic reduction in parking. 

“When we look at this, what we have found is that local businesses know best how much parking they need, and it’s not necessarily something that is necessary for the city to mandate,” Fulton explained. “When architects come in to construct things that are new, they are often starting with what’s the parking requirement and they’re designing everything else around that parking requirement. The goal here is to start with what wants to be on the site, where it should go on the site, and then what’s needed for parking as a secondary measure, not as the primary measure for a site.”

This proposal received many questions at the meeting, with some wondering why some properties are treated differently.

“One of the things I heard tonight was they may release the minimum required parking spots for hotels, but close and vacation rental type things will still have required off street parking, and I’m trying to figure out what’s the difference between a viable rental and a small hotel if the Air BNB was required to have parking, then the hotel should be required to have parking also,” said local businessman Steven Sola. “It’s basically if you buy a piece of property, provide enough parking for your customers and don’t create a detriment to the neighborhood by having them parked down the street.”

This proposal, as well as potential regulations for overflow parking, additional provisions for electronic vehicle charging and bike storage is expected to be considered at a public hearing this fall before going to city council later this year. This gives time for comments, concerns, and any additional research needed. 

“My main opinion on the approach of them eliminating the minimum parking is Duluth, I feel is a very unique city and so many different ways, whether it’s geologically just the way it’s physically built on a hillside, and there are so many different issues in the city based on that alone that this should not be a shotgun approach that encompasses the whole city, basically saying we’re going to remove the minimum parking for for all of these businesses,” said Sola. “They should look at different areas and maybe possibly different different studies in different parts of the city and maybe take a little longer look at it.”