Parking & Circulation Study: Where We’ve Been, What’s Been Recommended, and Where We Go From Here

With the tremendous growth that’s taken place in Scott’s Addition over the past five to seven years, the neighborhood has experienced a number of growing pains. As development has become denser, thanks in part to a rezoning that took place in 2017 that reduced the parking requirement for new development, parking (and lack thereof) is a pressing concern. I wanted to take a few moments to catch everyone up on the process to address these concerns, what has been done so far, and where we go from here.

Where we started

We began working with the City of Richmond and their contractor, DESMAN, on a parking and circulation study beginning in mid-2018 (see the goals of the study here). This study took a look at the entirety of Scott’s Addition and then broke down the projected need for parking, block by block, using drones and people on feet walking the neighborhood to produce two sets of data. The idea behind this was to get a snapshot of parking utilization during a peak weekday time and peak weekend time, as seen below.

ScottsAddition_June13_ParkingMaps_11X17

The data, which was presented at two public meetings in order to garner feedback from stakeholders, shows that some blocks are at 90% utilization at these two measurement points, but much of the neighborhood has adequate parking available at the current time. However, we plan for the future as best we can knowing that denser, taller development is coming to Scott’s Addition and that our neighborhood could, and probably will, look much different in the coming years.

General findings

DESMAN noted the following observations and heard the following top concerns as they conducted the parking and circulation study:

Top observations

  1. Heavy on-street overall utilization at mid-day (88%) on weekdays and over parking on various blocks in the mornings and weekends, according to land uses.
  2. Comparatively low utilization of off-street parking (36-49% overall) with only about 20% of all facilities operating at or near effective capacity.
  3.  On weekends, on-street utilization climbed through the days (55% in the morning, 71% in the afternoon) to peak at 120% of effective capacity (1,599 cars vs. 1,336 spaces.) [Potential displacement of 263 vehicles if properly marked and enforced.]
  4.  On the same weekday, there were between 2,245 and 2,393 off-street spaces open.
  5.  Many vehicles parked in places where parking should not be allowed (i.e. abandoned curb cuts, fire hydrants, into intersections, etc.)
  6.  No on-street handicapped parking spaces. [2% off-street standard would require ~ 31 spaces.]

Top feedback received

  1. Concerns regarding on-street parking practices and enforcement.
  2.  Zoning does not seem to be requiring enough parking to support new uses as they are introduced.
  3.  Curbside turnover and availability is a major concern for businesses in the area.
  4.  Lack of designated parking for area employees and/or residents if curbside parking is restricted.
  5.  Desire to see infrastructure improvements to support walking and biking through the area.
  6.  Short-term desire for structured parking through a Public/Private Partnership.
  7.  General acknowledgment that long-term growth will need to less car-centric, more focused on live-work or alternative transportation modes.

Based on these observations and concerns that were heard, DESMAN put together a list of possible options to help mitigate the parking and circulation issues in the neighborhood and presented their findings in January of 2019.

SA_Presentation_190116

Current tentative recommendations

Based on observations, resident and business feedback at the public meetings, and input from the City of Richmond, DESMAN has stated that they are recommending the following three items for our neighborhood’s consideration. These have not been officially delivered to the City of Richmond nor to our association but an official presentation will be made in the coming months. It is important to note that none of these changes will be made immediately, if at all, and we are very interested in hearing and answering your questions, comments, and concerns.

Institute three-hour parking neighborhood-wide

DESMAN recommends we institute three-hour parking throughout the entirety of the neighborhood to help with turnover of parking in the neighborhood and open up spaces. Obviously, this is not a one-size-fits-all solution and will not work for the entire neighborhood. If this were to be implemented (between the hours of 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM), it would be done sensitively and carefully to ensure businesses and residents aren’t negatively affected. There is a possibility that we will consider issuing parking permits to allow for around-the-clock parking on a case-by-case basis as well.

Create shared parking agreements

Another recommendation, which is something we are already actively pursuing, is shared parking agreements between lot owners and those in search of parking spaces. We are in talks with several vendors who specialize in these types of arrangements already. Think of this type of setup as the “Uber” of parking. Let’s say a residential building owner has a parking lot that sits two-thirds empty during the day when many residents are at work. A neighboring office user may want to come to an agreement with the lot owner to use a portion of these open spaces. Likewise, the same owner could offer individual spaces for rent during the day to the public through a mobile app that allows for on-demand reservations. There are a lot of opportunities to open up additional parking inventory under a scenario like this, and we’ll continue to explore our options.

Offer tax abatements for structured parking

As the neighborhood grows and new high rises go up around Scott’s Addition, there is also an opportunity to offer developers tax abatements for allocating a portion of structured parking in their respective buildings to the public (for a fee). There is an existing precedent for this type of scenario in other neighborhoods, so we believe we could institute this here successfully.

Things we can do on our own

There are also a number of things we can do on our own to increase our parking inventory and make for a safer neighborhood, which we’re currently exploring. They include:

  • Filling in curb cuts near bay doors that are no longer used for loading zones
  • Updating, replacing, and/or removing outdated parking enforcement signage
  • Striping available street parking to show acceptable parking bounds and keep the line of sight clear at street corners

Where we go from here

At this point, we’re waiting for the official documents from DESMAN with recommendations on parking going forward, and we’ll share those documents here when we have them. We also plan to host another public meeting or two to take feedback from businesses, residents, and other stakeholders before we go forth with any changes to our current parking setup. Then, and only then, will we announce possible changes that will affect the neighborhood. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you. Please submit your questions, comments, and concerns to us here.