Thursday, July 16, 2015

Public Private Parking

Parking lot behind CVS is half owned privately and other half public

Usually when you hear the three Ps mentioned in an Amherst public meeting it's in reference to a Public Private Partnership being used to build residential housing on UMass property to help mitigate the housing shortage in our #1 demographic, "college aged youth."

But of course an offshoot of increased residential dwelling units is a corresponding increase in parking -- even in Amherst, with a highly evolved public bus system, ride sharing apps, and a fondness for walking and cycling.

Last night the Zoning Subcommittee of the Planning Board agreed to take on the issue of downtown parking.

The Municipal Parking District currently gives a free pass to developers on providing parking, and the recent rise of Kendrick Place -- with 36 units of housing and no parking -- has brought that issue to a boiling point (For a few loud individuals at least).

Kendrick Place will open next month

One idea for the Planning Board is the possibility of allowing private business owners who provide surfacing parking as an accessory use to their business to install meters or machines to charge for shared parking.  Currently that would require a Special Permit rather than the more simple Site Plan Review.

Another idea floated was to come up with zoning regulations for a privately owned parking garage, although Business Improvement Director Sarah la Cour told the committee that any structure should be part of a larger overall plan and be "mixed use" rather than just parking.

The idea of a new public (or Public/Private) parking garage has been picking up steam recently.  The current parking lot behind CVS is considered a prime candidate, although Ms. la Cour did mention that it is currently (mostly) zoned RG (General Residence) rather than BG (General Business) and thus would require Town Meeting approval for a zoning change.

And any zoning article requires a challenging two-thirds vote to pass.  Last Spring Town Meeting voted by more than a majority for two "citizens petition" zoning articles that would have devastated downtown development with burdensome parking regulations and redefining what constitutes a "mixed use" building.

Another idea floated is for the Planning Board to tweak the current regulations in the Municipal Parking District to remove the exemption for "residential" uses and require .5 parking spaces per dwelling unit, plus one additional space per 10 total units.

Developers could also pay a "fee-in-lieu" of providing parking at a rate of $2,000 per space, which would be retained in a "Town Center Parking Reserve Fund" that would be used "solely for the purpose of constructing new parking spaces."

Had these regulations been in effect Kendrick Place, with 36 residential units, would then have had to provide 22 parking spaces or pay a penalty of  $44,000.

The Select Board and Planning Board jointly held three Public Parking Forums over the past year, and a final report is expected to be issued by the Planning Department before the end of summer.

The Zoning Subcommittee decided it best to await that report before digging in on any concrete proposal for parking changes in the downtown.

And since Kendrick Place is expected to open next month, it would also allow time to weigh the impact that has on downtown parking.

Zoning Subcommittee of PB:  Rob Crowner, Bruce Carson, Stephen Schreiber, Greg Stutsman


Anonymous said...

You say Kendrick place has already brought the parking issue to the boiling point.

That seems to imply that there are intense parking issues where people that live at Kendrick place have cars and park them along the road, displacing current parking and resulting in people driving all over, parking far from home or their businesses.

Or is this a nimby echo where people are all worked up about the building and want to use parking as a way to limit this kind of thing in the future, but not because of the parking, simply because they want to have control of other peoples' property.

Is the parking really at a boiling point due to this building or are people's minds just blown that they could not stop it and want to have more tools to stop the next one, regardless of the reason?

Larry Kelley said...

Probably the latter.

The Zoning Sub Committee also said another reason to wait a while is for Kendrick Place to actually open to see if there really is a major impact on downtown parking.

Anonymous said...

Amherst residents would be wise to study the "rule of law" and how everything seems to be done to eliminate rule of law and replace it with the crude system of laws and enforcement.

Laws and enforcement are for children and prisoners, the powerless. Rule of law is for adults, those with thought, decisions and personal power.

Subject citizens to simple laws and enforcement without rule of law and you have turned them into children/slaves.

If you don't have rule of law, you or a developer is not sure what kind of building you are allowed to build in 5 years, you must wait for the overseers to tell you what you are allowed to do as it happens. You become a child.

Just a reminder, children rarely supply housing.

Anonymous said...

In Amherst a few people making noise over and over again passes for a boiling point, when the other 33,000 are just going right along with their day.

Anonymous said...

This is a tempest in a teapot. Most of the buildings in the downtown area don't own any parking of their own. It's not a 1 to 5 apartment ratio, it's zero. No one's even noticed because it's not a problem.

Anonymous said...

"...acting more like children than children.

Anonymous said...

Karlstrom in a teapot, actually

Anonymous said...


Carol Grey said it best.

At Town Meeting she said that the parking situation was just fine in downtown Amherst until 2008, when the Municipal Parking District was expanded (by town meeting vote). Since then, parking has become a nightmare.

Except...exactly one building has been constructed in downtown Amherst since 2008. And I don't think the 10 units in Boltwood Place took the situation from "just fine" to "nightmare".

Anonymous said...

The impact of Kendrick Place? Lets see, 36 unit, 2 cars per unit, 72 parking places.
Looks like they'll need a parking lot. And a big one if friends/relatives come to visit. Can't wait to see the impact!

Anonymous said...

Cut the shit already. The town mismanaged the Boltwood "garage" years ago. That area should have been cobblestoned over and made a pedestrian only way with additional retail spaces and outdoor dining (ever seen Burlington, VT Portland, ME and others just like it? Beautiful and prosperous) while a two/three story garage (not just a freaking basement) should have been placed in the CVS lot area. Then close down that stupid narrow driveway between CVS and 96 North Pleasant and make that a a well marked walkway that leads from the garage across North Pleasant Street to the (wait for it..) business district. The centrally located garage would provide easy access to the Jones and area businesses.

THEN you could have easily planned for additional parking for Kendrick PL and what ever gets built in the Carriage Shop area. There is a public and private lots on Pray Street that may have been reconfigured. Any vibrant area is going to struggle for parking. Hamp did a nice job with their garage and we should have followed their lead. You can barely see it in its current location..the same if we did it right here the first time.

It can still be accomplished but it would require some firm decisions that are seldom made in this community.

Anonymous said...

About our current "parking garage"....

a camel is a horse designed by a committee

An expression critical of committees—or by analogy, group decision-making—by emphasizing the ineffectiveness of incorporating too many conflicting opinions into a single project. In this figure of speech, the distinguishing features of a camel, such as its humps and poor temperament, are taken to be the deformities that resulted from its poor design.  


Anonymous said...

Lived here sixty years, never had a parking problem or a parking ticket. What a bunch of spoiled brats.

Anonymous said...

Is there any actual data on parking in Amherst or just people saying I could/could not find a spot?

Anonymous said...

There is going to probably be a new parking study. LOL

Larry Kelley said...

Now that you mention it ...

Anonymous said...

When will SOMEONE convene a steering committee to conduct a study of Amherst studies? I really think the town-gown's methodology of generating meaningful performance indicators based on master planning results warrants such a study study.

Anonymous said...

Bertucci's is gonna need an even bigger "no parking" sign!

(The current one was added when construction began)

Anonymous said...

Actually, Bertucci's needs a sign "PUBLIC PARKING: $4/Hour (waived for customers)".

That is the MAIN issue: to convert all of those private lots into public lots. Then the manufactured crisis will go away.

Anonymous said...

Kendrick PL should never had been built without parking provided. What the hell was the MAYOR thinking!

Anonymous said...

The MAYOR was thinking that we need to do something to jump start our downtown.

If there is such a parking problem, why are there absolutely no private pay-per-space parking lots in downtown?

Dr. Ed said...

I agree with the above comment regarding Northampton Parking Garage -- or get some sort of Federal Grant and do what Boston did, a garage under the common.

Downtown Amherst has always been a crossing point between a North/South and an East/West road -- the current Route 9 having been moved south at least twice* and a bypass built for part of Route 116, taking traffic off North Pleasant Street. (Imagine if this hadn't been done -- and all that traffic going through downtown.)

Governor Volpe was right -- Route 9 needs to bypass Amherst so that the East/West traffic isn't congesting downtown -- and not impeded by it either. Amherst didn't want it going through Mark's Meadow -- OK, why not UNDER the current road?

Build a bypass that allows traffic to never climb the hill, going straight through UNDER the intersection and come out on the far side of downtown. And while you are at it, dig up the common as well and put a parking garage underneath it.

*Once as part of the Quabbin -- while barricaded, notice how the Amherst/Pelham road continues beyond US 202 and down into the Quabbin.

Anonymous said...

Bertucci's may have a sign up, but is not complaining

Anonymous said...

As I said before, there is no parking problem, just a bunch of spoiled brats.

Anonymous said...

Don't park drunk, accidents cause people.

Anonymous said...

If there's no parking problem....why are they studying it? And how much will it cost?

Anonymous said...

The problem is that failures that could only find jobs in the public sector don't quite feel important enough.

Just let them play with the parking, this is perfect. If they think parking is solved they will make something else up to mess with and that may have even more of an effect on people's lives. Playing parking gods is the perfect distraction for these simpletons. I say more meetings, more studies and more time focused on this vs. our real lives, which if noticed, will be ripe for the picking.

There is obviously no parking problem worthy of action.