Comment of the Day: The Chicken, The Egg, and The Houston Sprawlscape

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE CHICKEN, THE EGG, AND THE HOUSTON SPRAWLSCAPE Proposed Heights H-E-B with 10 ft. building setback“I do usually avoid stores with no bike parking or unfriendly pedestrian/bike access, so I see the other side of [the parking lot] coin. Stores need to cater to their customers; it’s customer demand that’s ultimately at fault for hideous parking lots and runoff and heat islands and sprawl and all the rest. But one way to drive demand is creating feedback loops, and one way to start that is stores building less parking.” [Sid, commenting on H-E-B’s Plan and Backup Plan for the Double Decker Heights Dry Zone Store] Rendering of preliminary parking garage plans for N. Shepherd H-E-B: Houston Planning Commission

6 Comment

  • Would just note that building less parking is not a good starting point to create a feedback loop. Where it has been done, it just leads to more on-street parking with an increase in vehicular traffic due to said on-street parking. You need to reduce the need for automobiles, which takes lots of density and money that Houston doesn’t have and are generally things the Heights does not want in the first place.

  • Parking isn’t created in a vacuum or at the whims of customer demand, it’s driven by legislated minimum requirements. If you’re at all interested in changing feedback loops, that’s where you need to start.

  • So the 0.001% of people who ride bikes to the grocery store won’t go here? And the people who do can only buy about 1 bag worth of groceries. I think they will be fine.

  • To clarify “meh” ‘s comment; it’s the City of Houston dictating the amount of parking spaces. And ironically, the city leading the push for more biking options. Have you ever seen a full parking lot at grocery store/ “big box” store?

    “Sprawl” is a result of economics, geography and a superior highway system. Why pay more for decent housing when you live in the suburbs? Why pay more to live inside the city for less space? No geographic feature other than the mighty Buffalo Bayou is hindering “sprawl” or growth. And flat land is easier to build on. Finally a world-class highway system connects the sprawling areas and gives us drivers a plethora of options. I live in Pearland, an affordable house (and low property taxes). I have a long drive, but plenty of options to get to work.
    I can live in Pearland with an affordable house (and reasonable property taxes)

  • @Blake While technically it’s true the parking is mandated by ordinance it’s the retailer’s demands that drive parking at shopping centers. Grocers in particular will want about 5 spaces for every 1,000 SF of NRA. The only time I’ve seen city requirements conflict on a shopping center was when the developer wanted to put too many restaurants for his seating capacity/parking space ratio. But those parking ratios are driven by the retailers.

  • @Blake Sprawl is not just a choice, for many it’s an economic necessity. Even with Houston’s economic growth since 2010 and relatively liberal growth regime we’ve still seen home prices increase at 3x the rate of income growth. And that’s for all homes — the new home growth picture is even worse. It’s priced the median new home out of reach of almost 40% of Houston area households, and that’s in a city that’s only seen an average home price increase since the end of the recession.