Tiny “Freestanding” Inner-Loop Bars and Restaurants Escape Increased Parking Requirements

TINY “FREESTANDING” INNER-LOOP BARS AND RESTAURANTS ESCAPE INCREASED PARKING REQUIREMENTS [Note: Story corrected and updated below.] The planning commission has made a few adjustments to the proposed changes to the city’s parking rules it’s likely to forward to city council after a meeting today. The revised draft ordinance exempts freestanding restaurants smaller than 2,000 sq. ft. and bars smaller than 1,000 2,000 sq. ft. from the major increase in parking spaces the new rules will be requiring of most new eat-and-drinkeries — as long as they’re inside the 610 Loop. Also included: a major potential boon for bike parking. By providing 4 bicycle spaces in place of each required car space, new Inside-the-Loop businesses would be able to reduce their parking requirements by up to 10 percent. [Planning & Development (see 3 PDF links at bottom of page); previously on Swamplot] Update, 1:45 pm: As a few local restaurateurs have noted, the exemption may turn out to be not much of a change at all: “The major bright, flashing verbiage in that should be ‘free-standing,’notes chef Justin Yu of the just-announced Oxheart. “I’ve looked for the past 4 years for a quality free standing building under that size. Unless I build it myself, it doesn’t exist.”

14 Comment

  • This seems to save many Montrose restaurants, right?

  • Good. This city is increasingly becoming more urban.

  • This happened due to some good organizing by the inner loop restraunt owners. This will be great for the Heights by allowing a cafe culture to thrive in converted bungalows and old commerical buildings. The City needs to step up and get all the streets in the Heights curbed and guttered so overflow parking isn’t a burden on the old narrow streets with open drainage ditches.

  • Montrose Slums,
    Not really, because I believe existing restaurants are grandfathered. New rules would only apply to addresses that weren’t previously restaurants.

  • Maybe a short-term success for the bar people, but this will basically keep the staus quo or even exacerbate the fight for parking spots between bar patrons and homeowners if more new places are allowed to open in neighborhoods. Look for more “permit parking only” streets in the near future.

  • Not good enough.

    Very few freestanding spaces of this size. Ordinance still encourages excessive off street parking and drunk driving.

  • drunk driving??? That should win a swamplot award…

  • @caneco , I believe the meaning of the “drunk driving” comment was that making it easier to park at bars encourages people to be lazy and drive rather than carpool with a DD or use other transportation options.

  • King Biscuit

  • I hope we see tons more of “permit only parking” in residential neighborhoods.

    This is the aboslute best way to encourage car pooling, biking, etc. I also think this does away with the backward step of requiring more parking inside the loop for bars.

    The solution here is “permit only parking” or metered parking which will do away with this backward ordinance.

    So the solution here for Houston moving forward is to increase land usage soley for cars? Great. We are continuing to encourage that Houston is a city made for cars… Seems like a highly inefficient way to grow.

  • Permit parking is pretty much essential in a some cities (Boston, DC, SF, etc.) because there is nowhere but the street for most residents to park their cars. I don’t really see the point of it in many Houston neighborhoods, where the majority of houses have driveways, apartment complexes have garages or lots, etc.

    There are exceptions, of course, but people need to get over the idea that something bad is happening if somebody parks in front of your house to go to a restaurant or bar up the street.

  • John, some of us live in houses built before most people had a car, nevertheless two, so there are some of who utilize the spot in front of their homes daily. It just so happens that it is these same neighborhoods where residents depend on street parking that restaurants come in with the intention of claiming those same spots for their customers. Thus, the conflict.

  • speaking from a street where permit parking was recently passed (it took about 10 months start to finish) we were fed up with bar patrons littering our lawns with beer cans and using our front yards as a toilet, not to mention the 2am fights in front of our houses and drunk yelling that woke up the neighborhood wed-sat. none of us are a fan of the permit idea, but were forced into it by the bars and restaurants on westheimer with inadequate parking (and the valets who also use our street to park patrons cars).

  • Does Houston have laws about where valets can park cars? This was an ongoing issue in DC. There was resident permit parking that allowed non-sticker-holders to park for 2 hours; valets would regularly park customers’ cars on the street, despite a city law that required valets to have off-street parking to stow cars in. (Then the cars would get ticketed, valets would throw the tickets away, and car owners would get quite irate when they got the overdue ticket notice with added surcharges.)

    On a related note, what’s with valets who park your car 50 feet away in a strip mall parking lot? I think this is the weirdest thing I’ve seen since moving to Houston.