New timeline for Denver parking exemption: Fix it before May 26

A huge parking lot on 16th Street near Glenarm Street. (Roger Whitacre/Denver Public Library/Roger Whitacre photograph collection/Z-10470)

Denver City Council wants to extend its moratorium on projects that take advantage of a parking exemption for small lots to May 26 to buy time to figure out how to change the conditions under which buildings qualify.

The disagreement is between transit advocates and developers who think parking is of the past (we need to build densely, for people, now in order to get to the city we need to be in 20 years) and neighborhood groups that think street parking is getting too congested and new development is degrading quality of life.

As it currently exists in the code, the small-lot parking exemption lets developers skip the parking in mixed-use zones if their lots are 6,250 square feet or smaller. Once developers started to actually use this exemption, neighborhood groups got upset, and the City Council imposed a moratorium. The various proposals on the table start to add in parking requirements as buildings get taller and let buildings near transit corridors get by with less parking than those farther away.

The moratorium was set to expire at the end of March, but the Denver City Council gave initial approval to an extension of the moratorium to May 26 at Monday’s meeting. A public hearing and second vote on the moratorium extension is scheduled for March 20.

March 20 is also when Denver City Council plans to hold an initial vote on whatever compromise plan comes out of the council’s Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. A second reading and public hearing on the actual parking proposal is currently scheduled for April 17.

Erica Meltzer

Author: Erica Meltzer

Erica Meltzer covers government and politics. She's worked for newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois and once won a First Amendment Award by showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and can swear fluently in Guarani. She gets emotional about public libraries. Contact Erica Meltzer at 303-502-2802, emeltzer@denverite.com or @meltzere.