Houston City Council approved the Planning and Development Department's suggested changes to the off-street parking ordinance on Wednesday, and it seems to be one of those rare occasions where the result is almost universally beneficial.
Amendments to the Chapter 26 ordinance — a document largely unchanged since 1989 — were meant to revamp the parking requirements for everything from restaurants and bars to landmark buildings.
OKRA, a group helmed by local restaurateur and bar owner Bobby Heugel, fought for more than a year against a one-size-fits-all approach in the ordinance overhaul in order to keep changes fair for the little guys — the same homegrown concepts and neighborhood hangouts that have garnered the city recent national attention.
"Houston is on roll!," Brian Crimmins tweeted during the meeting.
Months of meetings, community input and amendment restructuring resulted in looser parking restrictions across the board, and the amendments passed in council 14 to 2 (the Houston Chronicle notes that only council members Helena Brown and Jerry Davis dissented; Andrew Burks was absent).
"Houston is on roll!" tweeted Brian Crimmins, chief of staff for the Houston Planning and Development Department, during the meeting.
The council followed up by adopting rules that would require and incentivize new businesses to provide parking for bicycles, plus changes that will provide a 20 percent parking spot reduction incentive to businesses near METRORail stations if pedestrian-friendly city guidelines are implemented.
"The goal was to have a more flexible ordinance so that as we densify as a city, particularly in the inner city inside Loop 610, that we have more flexibility and we recognize changing demographics, changing lifestyles and the increasing presence of mass transit," Mayor Annise Parker said.