Street file photo COPY

City Council members will continue to examine proposed changes to city parking standards. In this photo from 2019, numerous vehicles are parked on both sides of Grand Avenue leading to and from downtown.

During their regular meeting on Feb. 16, City Council continued their discussion about proposed changes to citywide parking standards.

The proposed amendment presented by Laramie city planners focuses on decreasing parking requirements by 30-50% for most uses. According to the city planning division, these reductions were spurred by national trends, observations, and public comments. In their explanations for parking reductions, the city planners noted that parking determines how much land is available for commercial or residential activity. Excessive parking requirements hinder business and residential development.

In the cover sheet for the proposed amendments, city planners note that the updates would encourage more sustainable land use practices, remove parking burdens from developers, prepare the city’s Unified Development Code for the onset of autonomous vehicles and public transit, and clarify confusion around parking requirements.

“We review site plans multiple times per week. What we’ve seen is that we have been requiring a large amount of parking that is not typically used,” said Matthew Cox, city planner for Laramie. He made note of several locations throughout the city that have an overabundance of parking, such as ACE Hardware and the Murdoch’s shopping center. He explained that these businesses were built before the 2010 parking code was adopted. Under the current code (adopted in 2010), these parking lots would actually be required to increase significantly. Parking is extremely expensive to develop. Current city parking standards have inhibited further business development throughout the cities.

“We are trying to combat sprawl and incorporate better land usage,” said Cox.

RESISTANCE FROM CITY COUNCIL

“I’m opposed to this ordinance because of the sweeping changes. I would much rather address particular issues as they come up instead of making a blanket reduction,” said councilmember Erin O’Doherty (Ward 3). O’Doherty has expressed concern and opposition to the changes since their introduction. In past city council meetings, she has noted that many of the complaints she receives from the public are about traffic and parking.

Councilmember Bryan Shuster (Ward 3) echoed O’Doherty’s concern, saying that he felt that limited parking was a frequent issue throughout the city.

“I think there is a desire on the part of the city council to tackle parking as a project. I think this proposal [from Laramie city planners] is a good starting place,” Mayor Paul Weaver said. “I think it needs to be broken down and addressed in a more compartmentalized way.” He added that the proposed changes to parking standards ties back to the goals that the city has laid out, including economic development and creating affordable housing. The proposed ordinance is a good starting point, and he noted that the council should stay on a steady path to working on these parking issues.

REVISITING THE ISSUE

The city council unanimously voted down Original Ordinance No. 2021, which called for amending various sections of Title 15.14.040 of Laramie Municipal Code regarding citywide parking standards.

Members of city council seemed to be in agreement that the issue would need to be revisited, and that parking was an area of major concern. They committed to continuing their work with Laramie city planners to come up with a more compartmentalized, easily understood plan to address parking issues throughout the city.

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