Changes Coming to Off-Street Parking in Houston

CHANGES COMING TO OFF-STREET PARKING IN HOUSTON City council approved today by a vote of 14-2 changes to the off-street parking ordinance that hasn’t really been tweaked since 1989. The changes, reports the Houston Chronicle’s Mike Morris, will remove one-size-fits-all requirements that seem to have been rankling smaller bars and restaurants — and their support groups like OKRA — inside the Loop: “The ordinance loosens rules on how close parking lots must be to a building’s front door, makes it easier for businesses to share parking, allows substitution of bike parking for car spaces, cuts parking for historic buildings and allows the creation of “special parking areas” so neighborhoods can create new rules tailored to their needs.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of parking lot behind Tony Mandola’s Gulf Coast Kitchen: Swamplot inbox

19 Comment

  • Amazing. Bravo! Now why in the heck did Helena Brown vote against this?

  • Nice, common-sense work by the city.

  • Thank you, I worked hard on that.

  • Good news for everybody! Well, aside from the people who don’t want someone parking on a public road in front of their house.

  • I can think of a dozen places in the Heights that can now be redeveloped into restaurants and bars thanks to this change in the ordinance.

  • @Anse: You should know that if it makes sense, Helena Brown is probably going to vote against it.

  • So when can we expect to see the end of valet parking in coned-off spots which are only 10 feet from the front door?

  • It is great to see this progress being made by the City. I have been a supporter of this since it’s inception more than a year and and a half ago.

    Kudos to bike Houston, OKRA, the Super Neighborhood groups and ESPECIALLY the chief of staff and the Planning Commission for all the hard work and late hours to give us designers an updated set of rules to play by!



  • Hurray! finally the day came. The houston look is going to change.

  • No need to bash the two Councilmembers who voted ‘no’ until we have an actual article written by a reporter who’d care to include such details as ‘why’ there was a divided vote.

    I hope this change works–it makes some intuitive sense to me, but I don’t understand all the contours yet so I’ll withhold judgment.

  • Any change that lessens the * requirements* is good news to me.
    once size fits all is terrible when applying to business or even neighborhoods. If Montrose wants to work towards a more walkable neighborhood, let us come up with different solutions.

  • Oddly enough I think Brown was the one member to vote against the Jacintoport annexation as well.

  • I can only assume that Brown voted against it because the new ordinance contained subtle undertones of a United Nations takeover of our parking spaces for the purposes of advancing the New World Order, by which we will all be forced out of our automobiles–aka “Swift Machines of Liberty”–and onto bicycles–aka “Two-Wheeled Vehicles of Tyranny”–because it’s hard to put a gun rack on a bike, which is surely the reason why bicycles are the instruments of one world government…and let us not forget the Founders, who intended us to employ the virtues of horsepower, because after all they all rode horses and were therefore explicitly anti-bicycle.

  • You guys are missing that one little catch in there…the allowance for neighborhoods to create “special parking areas” and “new rules” “tailored to their needs”… What this means is that residential neighborhoods will continue to have the power (maybe even enhanced power) to legally turn public streets into resident parking only. So I wouldn’t get too excited about any funky old buildings in the Heights or Montrose turning into bars anytime soon.

  • Yes, but if it means that people are going to say “I’m going to Restaurant A because it’s too much trouble to park at Restaurant B” then the ordinance hasn’t done anyone any favors. Either Restaurant B, their potential patrons, or the neighborhood. What am I missing here? For example, my wife and I really like the Hobbit Cafe but the parking lot is generally not worth the hassle, so we’ll go someplace else. Someplace suburban, usually.

  • Helena Brown voted against it because it’s not how they do it in Asia. Apparently she spends every other week over there blogging about how awesome Asia is, and how we can improve Houston by being more like them. One of her blogs even stated that the key to making Houston a top world economy is by having a direct flight to Korea. Sounds legit. Thanks Helena.

  • marmer: That’s exactly why we DON’T need parking rules. If you skip going to hobbit because parking is a pain, the hobbit misses out on business by having too few spots. Maybe they (and others) need MORE than the minimum. But there are other business that give up valuable land to parking when its not needed simply because its the “rule”. If Hobbit wants to have 1 spot and suffer the consequence of people not going there because it’s a pain to park, then so be it.
    Maybe I want to open a restaurant that caters to locals that can walk to my place and sit on a nice grassy area in front. If so, why do I have to have 70% of my land area as parking? It’s my land. My business. I’d rather use that to build a nice patio, or green space.
    It’s the gall of the government that thinks THEY know how many spots *I* should have. I’m confused why people would support that.

  • @Anse

    Bravo. I lol’d.

  • Does this mean we won’t have drunks blocking our driveway while they’re get their party on?