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The Parking in Your Town Series: 3. The Parking In Your Town Series: The Verge Zone.

The Parking In Your Town Series:

  1. On street management
  2. Off street minima
  3. The P.B.N.
  4. The Verge zone

This is the finale of our series about car parking, its effects on development and municipal government finance. Part 4 illustrates an idea that municipalities can use that we consider helpful not only to quickly recover from the effects of COVID-19, but for future resiliency. So, let’s dive in!

In the past three articles we discussed the many ways that the twin policies of poor curb management and minima causes a multitude of negative effects that our so called “free enterprise” society has to deal with. We talked about the way that both supplying on-street parking without pricing it and parking requirements for virtually every land use, undercuts the price that property and business owners can charge drivers. We also talked about solutions for dealing with the many issues that come from the mismanagement of parking in both the public and private realms. Finally, we discussed a way to involve citizens in proactively managing parking congestion while giving them the resources to deal with parking enforcement and infrastructure issues in their own neighborhoods.
 
We also mentioned a way that municipalities could begin thinking about parking which would be to  make it more adaptive, using the mnemonic RESPOnD:
 
R = Relax - stop boosting supply by relaxing or removing off-street parking mimima [see Part 2: On-street Minima]
E = Engage - engage with people to ease their fears and offer them value that the  better managed curb will give them
S = Share - have businesses open more parking to the public
P = Price - at the right rate for each place and time
On = On-street - parking needs strong enforcement
D = Demand - demand management should be employed for transit rich areas (i.e. downtown areas)
 
In Part 4: The Verge Zone, we will discuss D = Demand and explore what can be done in areas where  there is a distinct lack of demand for pay parking? Or where the street infrastructure is  over-built and where there exists some or all of the following criteria:
  • There is demand by property owners to access more land for their needs
  • The municipality has need for additional property tax income
  • The municipality wishes to convert this street to a different use, such as a walking & cycling track with slow vehicle access
  • The municipality has, in its long term plans for that area, contraction of maintained infrastructure due to the adoption of urban growth boundaries, etc.

Intent

The intent is to give property owners opportunities to land they can access directly while at the same time,  giving towns added revenue. In theory, it will lower the amount of land that the local government is responsible  for while continuing to allow access to under-street infrastructure for repairs and maintenance. In areas where this need doesn’t exist, local governments would be able to grant title to this property removing it from public responsibility.

How it would work

Property owners indicate to the municipality and PBN (if it exists) that they intend to use this piece of land, which is the street parking lane in front of the property for personal use.

The subject area would be analyzed by the engineering department and would subsequently be approved by the local government and the PBN.

Following approval, property owners would be able to use this extra space in return for paying  the municipality or PBN a mutually agreed upon amount (for example, $50/year). The agreement would be renewed every year at property tax time.

The property owner can use this space in the Verge Zone for purposes such as: extra garden space, storage of movable personal property (e.g. boats or motor homes), road side stands etc. These items must be capable of being moved because access to the infrastructure under the street such as storm drains, water, sewer & gas infrastructure may need to be accessed in the future.

What about corner lots, bus stops or mailboxes?

These provide the engineering department with challenges and depending on the long-term plan for that area, property owners may not be permitted to obtain Verge Zones. In the case of corner lots, property owners may only have access to one street face where infrastructure needs will remain the same into the future.

Wrap up

As indicated, the Verge Zone is a solution to the problem of overbuilt infrastructure and is intended only in areas where town infrastructure has created more parking spaces for the needs of both the town and the property owners. We recognize that this would have limited application and not suit every municipality but by being an option, municipalities can be financially strong and work with their inhabitants to be happy, healthy and prosperous.

Thanks for reading my Parking In Your Town Series.

Eric Diller is the president of Island Transformations Organization, an educational not for profit  group in Victoria.