(Houston -- Pat Hernandez, KUHF) It was a packed house at Houston's City Hall annex with owners of restaurants and bars discussing proposed changes to off-street parking rules and regulations. The Houston Planning Commission's Suzy Hartgrove deals with how many parking spaces businesses are required to provide for their customers.
"In some cases, we are increasing the number of spaces that businesses will have to provide," she says, "and in some cases we're loosening those restrictions, depending on what it is. Restaurants used to have to provide eight spaces per 1,000 square feet of gross floor area, I know it's complicated, and bars, 10 spaces. We're making our definition of a bar meet with the Texas Alcohol Board says is a bar, and so the number of spaces are going to go up."
She says some of the changes will include the addition of parking for bicycles, and "In some cases we're lessening parking requirements. For instance, back when this ordinance was first adopted, we hadn't heard of a 'Cupcake Shop' before and, people don't need to stay long at cupcake shops. So the parking, right now they're having to meet eight spaces per 1,000. Well. we're gonna take that down to four spaces per 1,000, because you don't need as much parking."
Planning Commissioners heard from many business owners. Some applauded the changes to the ordinance, while some thought it was an assault on small independent restaurants, or that the changes lacked clarity.
Comments from the business owners will be studied and forwarded to the Committee on Regulatory Affairs before the Planning Commission takes any changes to the parking ordinance for council approval in December.