Comment of the Day: We Tried That No Parking Requirements Thing Before, in Avondale

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WE TRIED THAT NO PARKING REQUIREMENTS THING BEFORE, IN AVONDALE “The urban fantasists who don’t believe in minimum parking should school themselves on the economic concept of the free rider and the common law concept of nuisance. They should also research a little of the history behind Houston minimum parking requirements. These regs did not emerge in a vacuum. I lived in Avondale, in Montrose, during the nineties, when it was home to no less than nine bars, multiple restaurants, and other adult businesses, all without parking and no parking requirements. Houston minimum parking requirements arose because of what was going on in Avondale and a few other neighborhoods inside the Loop. The patrons of these bars and restaurants did not and still do not live within Avondale. They all drove to Avondale because there was and is still no other way to get there. The bar owners did not provide parking, choosing instead to impose the costs of their patron parking on the city and the residents of Avondale (free rider). The patrons parked, imbibed, and then proceeded to be drunken asses all night disturbing the peace of the neighborhood (nuisance). Forcing the business owner to bear the costs of patron parking shifts the costs back to the business which benefits from the patronage. It is a reasonable requirement. It also alleviates the nuisance issue by keeping the drunks off the property of other businesses and residences.” [Jardinero1, commenting on Comment of the Day: What Parking Requirements for Bars Really Encourage] Illustration: Lulu

21 Comment

  • “They all drove to Avondale because there WAS AND IS STILL NO OTHER WAY TO GET THERE”

    Is uber and lyft unavailable in Avondale? Serious question. It sort of demolishes the entire argument and thesis if you can take uber and lyft to these locations because they were not available in the 90’s.

  • That was in the olden days before Uber and Lyft.

  • With no minimum parking ordinance, wouldn’t the current residential parking permit system, found throughout Montrose, continue to protect residential parking?

  • I agree, parking is a nuisance. It’s a nuisance to drive to a bar, it’s a nuisance to try and park at a bar, it’s a nuisance to find a legal place to park on the street, and it’s a nuisance to get back in the car and drive home. I’d much rather walk a few blocks to that quiet little pub on the corner of those two busy streets that used to be some home nobody ever really wanted to live and was constantly for sale, chat with the neighbors for a bit, and walk back home.
    Oh, wait, that’s right, I can’t, because they’d have to buy three lots around it just to make parking spaces.

  • Wait – Houston had no parking requirements in the ’90s?? That seems kind of hard to believe…

  • I personally LOVE Uber, but the original point is still valid. Many people still won’t pay for taxi service. If they did, DUIs would be a thing of the past. Not to mention that ordinances allowing Uber and similar services to operate are fickle and once a building is built without parking there is frequently no turning back.

    However, I really appreciate the spirit of the idea. I have noticed, since moving here in the mid 90’s, that parking anywhere (I live in West U) has become infinitely more difficult. Perhaps it is something that will come to fruition on its own accord.

  • If someone lives inside the city limits, they pay property taxes directly as a land owner or indirectly as a renter. If they live outside the city and buy something while they’re here, then they’re paying sales tax. Their taxes are going to some portion of the upkeep of that road and the roads around it. As tax payers, don’t they have as much right as you to park on that road?

  • Although I enjoy the relatively-convenient parking that Houston offers, compared to other large cities, as a result of the minimum parking ordinance, I do concur that it makes higher-density development more difficult.
    If the minimum parking ordinances were scaled back, I’d like to see this coupled with a city-wide abolition of resident-only parking zones. These cannot be justified in a city where 99% of homes and apartments have their own on-site parking. Yes, having bar and restaurant patrons occasionally park in front of your house can be a minor nuisance, but you did decide to live in a big city, right? If you believe that the street should be your private domain, go move to a gated community.
    In reality, if we let parking-light restaurant and bar districts evolve, there will be plenty of tow trucks around to haul off illegally-parked cars (ie cars that are blocking driveways or fire hydrants).

  • Continuing the fallacy that by living on a street, you should have exclusive access to parking on it. Do people who object to people who don’t live in their neighborhoods parking on a public street never leave their neighborhoods to park on others?

    Residential parking permits should be illegal. Public streets are public and anyone should be able to legally drive and park on any one of them equally. It should not be the responsibility of the taxpayer to provide any resident with a private parking space on a public street.

  • Let’s not forget that free parking isn’t actually free. In neighborhoods like Montrose or the Heights, where land values can exceed $75/sf, each parking space probably costs the operator something like $125-175 per month. At $10 per drink and a 28% pour cost, that’s 20+ drinks per month that a bar operator has to sell to pay for each parking space. That’s before paying for labor, glassware, maintenance, and the actual building the bar is in.
    By the same token, if you drive to work and park for free, you’re getting an un-taxed fringe benefit, which means the federal government is in effect subsidizing people who drive to work at the expense of car-poolers and transit riders.

  • The government pouring concrete, providing a costly good, and refusing to price it when people actually value it is not exactly the classic example of the Free rider problem.

    Mayor: Real cities have a lot of concrete, we want to be a real city, lets pour more concrete.
    City Planner: Why would we pour concrete just to pour concrete, that’s going to cost a lot of money.
    Mayor: We could just make our roads wider, and let people park on them.
    City Planner: Well okay, but that really doesn’t justify the cost.
    Mayor: do it.

    City Planner: Well I guess I was wrong before. There are some places where people are actually using all that concrete you got us to pour.
    Mayor: What do you mean.
    City Planner: Well there are some neighborhoods where demand for parking has really gone up and people are parking on the streets. Citizens are calling in to complain about “other people” parking on “their streets”.
    Mayor: Well we can’t have that, require other people to pour more concrete, real cities have a lot of concrete, so that nobody uses the concrete we poured.

    City Planner: There are still a couple of neighborhoods where parking demand is extremely high, people are just parking everywhere.
    Mayor: Make it illegal to park on our concrete.

  • It is not a free rider. It is an externality. Bar owners who flock together in certain areas do so because they can get more business. It is well known in the bar business that the best way to get people into your bar is to be next door to a bar that is full. Bar owners make lots of money getting people drunk but can just toss people out on to the street when they get out of control. Dram shop liability does not extend to bar patrons being loud on a residential street when children are trying to sleep, peeing and puking on people’s yards and parking illegally. Those are all problems that are a direct result of the bar owner’s operations, yet the neighborhood bears the cost of cleaning up the mess, declining property values and safety issues when emergency vehicles can’t get through residential streets. The parking minimums are simply an attempt by the city to correct an inefficiency in the market and put some of externalities back on the bar owners.

  • Why not parking permits for residents and meters for others? Or, start with reducing the number of spaces required. These lots serve no purpose most of the day.

  • I agree with many of the commenters that on-street parking belongs to everyone. It is not merely a privilege accorded the property owner adjacent to.

    The conflict in Avondale and other neighborhoods was not the result of an on-street space being used, occasionally, by a bar patron. The conflict occurred when the bar owners allowed their patrons to take every single on-street parking space, in the entire neighborhood, every single night. The on-street parking spaces, in their entirety, do not all belong, exclusively, to the bar owners, every night, until last call. Sorry, but if your business has a capacity of 100, 200 or 500 patrons, then it is wrong to expect the city or anyone else to bear the cost of your patron parking.

  • To the extent that on-street parking is an externality (one that can largely be resolved by converting streets to one-way traffic), enacting off-street parking minimums is about the dumbest possible way to address it.
    In order to reduce overflow parking on neighborhood streets, the city requires more off-street parking. Making everything further apart, reducing the percentage of patrons that can comfortably walk or affordably take a taxi, thereby increasing the demand for parking. At the same time, ordinances require that a business’s off-street parking be for its exclusive use, which puts standalone restaurants at a disadvantage to strip centers. This, combined with setback requirements incentivizes fewer, larger developments over more, smaller ones, thus ruining the streetscape, making walking even less pleasant.
    The better way to address this externality is to price on-street parking appropriately, and to enforce existing laws against public intoxication, illegal parking and public urination.

  • Yes!! Should also be required to have guest parking spaces in these infill townhomes as well. At least one for every two. Although those get filled by a******* that use their garages as storage units-take up guest parking so the rest of the owners essentially pay for their storage space (by default).

  • There is a reasonable expectation of quiet enjoyment. You can park there, but it doesn’t give you the right to be a nuisance, puke/pee in my yard, fight with your girlfriend outside my window, etc.. and my tax dollars shouldn’t have to go to policing that irresponsibility.

  • If there were parking requirements before those bars, Montrose would still be a crack head hell hole and no one would ever want to live there. This parking ordinance is insane, if you see lease space vacant around town it’s because of this economy crushing legislation.

  • The parking standards are one of the many forms of backdoor zoning that Houston employs instead of passing comprehensive actual zoning. If a bar or restaurant has no or minimal parking requirements, then it could open up anywhere in the many residential communities in Houston that have no deed restrictions. I do not worry about bar patrons parking in front of my house. I worry about a bar opening up next door to my house.

  • I detest rude ,drunken louts ruining the Montrose. Stay in your boring,bland suburban neck of the woods and party there , you doo doo heads.