Council members Riley and Spelman and Mayor Pro Tem Cole have placed a resolution on next Thursday's agenda initiating a Code amendment to "reduce or eliminate" the minimum site area and parking requirements for dwelling units less than 500 square feet and that are located on core transit corridors, future transit corridors or within TOD districts.
I'm still thinking this through, but this could be a big step. On the core transit corridors, the minimum site area change would really only affect properties that are not already zoned VMU. All CTCs have property that is zoned plain multi-family or mixed use -- I'm just not sure how much. I don't have any sense how this would affect TODs.
Honestely, I'd prefer to see Council abolish the minimum site area requirement for the entire urban core. (It could import the geographic limits from the occupancy reduction ordinance.) This is nonetheless a welcome step.
Eliminating or reducing parking minimums could make a dramatic difference. Although the large VMU projects are building lots of parking, eliminating the parking minimum for small units would allow developments to cater specifically to people who don't want to own cars. Foundation Communities, in fact, recently got Council's blessing for a LIHTC project on South Lamar that will provide only 45 parking spaces for 120 or so efficiency units. Foundation Communities is developing its project as a "congregate care facility" (it will have a 24-hour attendant on site), which entitles it to lower parking minimums. The project is on relatively shallow lots that probably lack room for the 88 or so parking spaces that would be required under the standard parking minimum.
There are lots of properties on our core transit corridors that are too small to hold large structured parking garages. The minimum parking requirement effectively prevents these from being developed with multi-family development. Or maybe it doesn't. Perhaps market constraints would prevent these from being developed anyway. Perhaps there aren't many people willing to live without a car in this town, even on core transit corridors. Still, it's hard to make a market argument against something the market hasn't been allowed to supply.