Most mornings on my way into work, I stop at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on South Lamar, a new coffee shop between Riverside and Barton Springs, one door down from Bridges on the Park. (The building used to be a soccer store.)
If you are looking for an example of how code mandates too much parking, here you go.
According to Travis County tax records, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf occupies an 8,861 sf building. City code requires restaurants to have 1 parking spot for every 100 sf for the first 2,500 sf, and 1 spot for every 75 sf over that. This means that CBTL, had it built on a suburban greenfield, would have needed 30 parking spots to comply with code.
It has 13.
And -- surprise! -- thirteen is enough most of the time. Most mornings there is at least one empty spot to the side of the shop. Some mornings there is not, but even then I manage to get my coffee. I park on Lee Barton Drive. Or I park in the Taco Bell parking lot next door -- which is no big deal since Taco Bell lets CBTL use its parking lot before 10 a.m. I doubt CBTL loses any business because it is "short" 17 parking spots.
I'm not sure how CBTL got away with fewer than code requires. Perhaps it got a variance. It sits on a narrow lot and could not have added another 17 spots without tearing down the building. Perhaps the number of parking spots were grandfathered.
Regardless, CBTL illustrates how our code requires too much parking.
It illustrates another point, too. Businesses want their customers to have a place to park. Sometimes they might prefer to provide another 2,000 sf of asphalt. Sometimes, though, they might prefer to find space elsewhere that is not being used. The asphalt on Lee Barton Drive, rather than lying empty, is now being used productively. Taco Bell's asphalt, rather than lying empty before lunch time, is now being used more productively. CBTL avoided pouring a bunch of concrete that would have lain empty 23 out of every 24 hours. Each square foot of asphalt provides more value now than before. And that's all because CBTL was allowed to figure out an informal solution to its "shortage" of parking.
If there, why not everywhere?