Jul 12, 2022 - News

Atlanta to consider new Midtown, Downtown parking limits

Illustration of a pencil eraser erasing the lines in a parking lot.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

City leaders pushing to improve walkability and public transportation in Midtown and Downtown have an idea: Allow less parking in new developments.

  • The goal: By creating fewer spaces for cars we might be able to create more spaces for people.

Why it matters: Making it easy to own and drive an automobile in urban areas makes it harder to create the walkable and transit friendly neighborhoods residents say they want — and ostensibly why many moved to those areas.

  • Plus, the city can't widen streets in dense neighborhoods. And every new parking space adds another car to gridlock.

Details: Introduced by Atlanta City Councilmember Jason Dozier, the proposed ordinance would lower the maximum number of spaces developers could build in residential buildings, hotels and offices.

  • For example, residential buildings in Midtown and Downtown could not have more than 1.1 spaces for each one-bedroom unit and 2.1 spaces for each two- (or more) bedroom unit.
  • Midtown hotels would be capped at one space per lodging room.

Yes, but: Dozier's plan is not aimed at stifling development or pitting the city versus developers or Downtown versus Midtown, the councilman tells Axios Atlanta.

  • These aren't radical ideas, he says, noting that only five of 138 developments previously planned in Downtown and Midtown would run afoul of the proposed ordinance.
  • "What we've been doing for decades is centering our city around vehicles," Dozier says. "That's why we have five- to six-lane roads in the heart of our Downtown corridor that go one way and are designed to move people in and out as quickly as possible. These aren't streets designed for people."

What they're saying: Many mobility advocates applauded the measure. Matthew Jones, a transportation planner and member of urbanism advocacy group Thread ATL, told Axios Atlanta that revising the parking rules is "a good line in the sand to draw and it points us to a better future."

The big picture: Developers don't like to build parking. But banks say developments won't work without plenty of it.

  • Transit with greater reach could help, but how do you get high-rise residents riding when they can hop in their car?

What we're watching: When we talk about parking we are really talking about economic development, urban design, transportation and the future of the city.

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