«Urban Problems and sPatial methods VolUme 17, nUmber 1 • 2015 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | Office of Policy Development and ...»
An understanding of the current downtown land use structure is critical to any development process. To assist in acquiring that knowledge, a complete inventory of land use downtown was completed. The inventory consisted of a complete survey of every building and every floor, identifying and recording the location of each individual activity. The use of 3-D spatial referencing made it possible to integrate the land use data into a Geographic Information System (GIS; Doner and Biyik, 2011). Overall, 36 different land uses in the 388 activity spaces were established, dominated by retail businesses and professional services (exhibit 2). Land use was recorded using a modified version of the North American Industrial Classification System (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013). The modifications included adding new codes for residential, parking lots, and vacant lands and buildings. Residential land use in Laramie’s DC zone district totaled 133 units and consists primarily of second story apartments above office or retail businesses (exhibit 3). The area also has 14 homes, 1 converted five-story hotel with 36 apartments, and 1 five-story building with 16 apartments. The 14 homes are a mix of single-family dwellings and converted multifamily housing. The 2010 Census listed 297 people living in the DC zone district (http://www.census.gov). Laramie is a college town, however, and the capture rate of people listing Laramie as their primary residence could be suspect.
74 Urban Problems and Spatial Methods 3-D Residential Land Use and Downtown Parking: An Analysis of Demand Index Exhibit 2 Downtown Laramie, Land Use, 2014
Parking has been a major issue in downtown development, with either not enough parking or too much (Jakle and Sculle, 2004). Parking is a major concern for expanding any residential activities downtown (Robertson, 1999). To alleviate some of the parking problems downtown, Edwards (1994) presented several strategies to alleviate the parking needs and to assist in small town downtown growth. The first step in the process, however, is to inventory and collect information on parking (Shields and Farrigan, 2001). To accomplish this task, a complete survey of both on- and off-street parking was completed in the DC zone district. Using a GPS, each on-street parking space was located and data were collected on its orientation, time restriction, and its handicap accessibility.
Similarly, information collected for off-street parking included GPS location, time restriction, and ownership status (public, private, or business-related). Overall, 834 on-street parking spaces are available, with time restrictions varying from 15 minutes to unlimited (exhibit 4). Most of the parking downtown is limited to 2 hours (63.9 percent); however, some locations at the north and south ends of the downtown have no signage and thus have unlimited parking (4.0 percent).
76 Urban Problems and Spatial Methods 3-D Residential Land Use and Downtown Parking: An Analysis of Demand Index Although the on-street parking inventory was completed and the locations recorded, 64 percent of the 834 parking spaces had a 2-hour limit and would not be convenient for the downtown residents.
The 220 spaces that did have all-day parking were generally some distance from the residence locations. A distance search function found that the average all-day parking spaces were 189.3 meters on average (standard deviation = 79.0 meters) from the residential units. This distance equates to slightly more than two city blocks from a unit. In the southeastern corner of the DC zone district, however, two multifamily housing units had building frontage adjacent to on-street parking with no signage.
Off-street parking has two areas: a larger parking lot and a small space on the backsides of buildings adjacent to an alleyway. Overall, 1,294 parking spaces are distributed across the DC zone district (exhibit 5), classified as public, private, or business-related (exhibit 6). Public off-street parking spaces are open to everyone and have a limited time span, whereas the private off-street parking spaces are signed as reserved parking for specific users—for either a specific apartment or business. The business-related parking spaces are those spots adjacent to a business without any specific restrictions; however, it is assumed those spaces are for the related business. If the spaces have signs, they usually identify the spaces as customer parking for the business.
For the downtown residential inhabitants, two off-street parking options are available, either an assigned parking space or the use of public parking. Downtown Laramie does not have a parking garage or current on-street city permitting zones. As displayed in exhibit 5, most of the private parking spaces are at the rear of the residential units, within 15 meters of the dwelling unit entrance and exit. Of the residential units, 38 percent (51) do not have assigned overnight parking. To accommodate their parking demand, the residents have to use public parking spaces; thus, they are in competition with other parking space users—retail shoppers, restaurant and bar patrons, and so on. In addition, the public parking has time limits, either 2 hours or all day. The all-day parking, however, in most cases, does have a no parking restriction between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
Parking Space Demand Model The basic parking space demand model is a bubble (exhibit 7). The radius of the bubble is the average distance a person walks to his or her destination; in this case, how far a resident walks to his or her residential unit. the model is a bubble because the capture area is three-dimensional;
it encompasses all the land uses on every floor within that walking distance, including across the street and diagonally across corners. Using the ITE (2010) guidelines for central business districts and the central city, each land use parking demand can be identified and assigned to each downtown business. The demands are a ratio of the number of spaces per square footage of use; for example, office space—2.8 parked vehicles per 1,000 GFA (gross floor area). The Albany County Assessor’s parcel data (Albany County, Wyoming Assessor’s Office, 2013), which contains information on the square footage of each building downtown, was coupled with the land use inventory 78 Urban Problems and Spatial Methods 3-D Residential Land Use and Downtown Parking: An Analysis of Demand Index Exhibit 7 Basic Parking Space Demand Model data, which counted the number of floors in each building and determined the location of each land use. Thus, a calculated spatial demand for each parking space can be generated based on the radius of walking from the parking space and the parking generation of all of the land uses within that distance. The demand is strictly cumulative and is not weighted by day of the week, time of day, parking time restrictions, or vacancy rates. A complete parking study would capture this information, but a use and full vacancy rate analysis unfortunately was beyond the scope of this study.
The walking radius is based on the responses from a random questionnaire conducted in March 2007 (Gribb, 2007). More than 280 individuals responded to an on-street parking survey that included questions concerning how long they parked, what the distance was to their first destination, how many additional destinations they had, and what the purpose was for each stop. The survey also included a number of questions concerning parking safety, aesthetics, and convenience.
The average distance to the first destination was 38.4 meters, which in Laramie is nearly one-half of a block. This distance is considerably less than the 71.3 meters identified in Jakle and Sculle (2004), the distance people would walk from parking to shopping in a small town. With this information, a concentric circle search radius could be employed in ArcGIS (ESRI v.10.2) to capture the spatial parking demand for each type of off-street parking.
A simple additive calculation based on the search radius was performed in ArcGIS (ESRI v.10.2).
After calculating the spatial demand for each parking space, the Jenk’s natural breaks classification method (Jenks, 1963) was employed to create a demand ranking (1 = lowest, 5 = highest) to classify the spaces. The ranking method is a method to compare parking space demand, instead of using the actual demand index value. As would be expected, the parking spaces on the fringe of the DC zone district have the lowest demand rankings, whereas the parking spaces in the central portion of the downtown have some of the highest (exhibit 8). It is not a uniform distribution, however; some areas downtown do not have the same density of land uses and do not have multistory buildings, thus creating a reduced parking demand.
In addition to calculating the spatial parking demand, a distance function was calculated to determine the average distance from each residential unit that did not have a private parking space to a public parking space. As mentioned previously, 51 residential units (38 percent) do not have assigned parking and, on average, the closest public parking is 148.9 meters (standard deviation of 63.2 meters), which is more than 1.5 blocks away. In addition, the available parking spaces within this distance generally had a ranking of 4 or 5, the highest demand classes (exhibit 8). Thus, the public
80 Urban Problems and Spatial Methods 3-D Residential Land Use and Downtown Parking: An Analysis of Demand Index parking spaces that are available to the residential units are in high demand and may not necessarily be readily available. This issue is compounded by the fact that the vehicles have to be moved between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. on select days.
Conclusion A major complaint in most downtown areas is that not enough parking exists. Robinson (1999) in his different strategies for downtown revitalization identified parking as a major component to invigorating the downtown. Jakle and Sculle (2004) cautioned that too much or too little parking, however, could be a hindrance to downtown redevelopment. Shoup (2005) cautioned against free parking and time limits. It is not just the number of parking spaces, however, but also the type of spaces and any restrictions that may create a barrier to their use (Mukhija and Shoup, 2006).
Laramie has nearly 2,130 parking spaces distributed between on- and off-street locations. Is this amount enough or too much? According to Litman (2006), most communities that follow a zoning standard for parking spaces have between 30 to 50 percent too much parking. Nearly 65 percent of the on-street parking is restricted to 2 hours, almost 25 percent of off-street parking is labeled private restricted, and another 51 percent is business-related parking. Thus, only about 25 percent of the 1,294 off-street parking spaces are available to the 51 housing units that do not have assigned or private parking.
Using a spatial parking demand index, it was possible to calculate and determine the distribution of parking demand by parking space. This method of demand analysis examines parking from the parking space perspective, not from the land use perspective. From the calculations, it was possible to determine that the available public parking spaces that are close to the residential units are in high demand and have time restrictions. The time restrictions present a major parking problem for nearly 34 percent of the residential units downtown. Manville (2013) found that development in downtown Los Angeles, California, was hampered by the parking requirements for residential units. By implementing an Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, it was possible to increase residential development in downtown Los Angeles. Litman (2006) also suggested that a variety of parking management strategies should be implemented. This same type of strategy could be employed in Laramie, by being creative in supplying parking to the one-third of the residents who do not have convenient access to parking.
Three other strategies for providing downtown parking are (1) shared parking spaces, (2) businesslease parking, and (3) on-street parking permits. APA published a document, Flexible Parking Requirements (Smith, 1983), that identified several methods in which daytime parking uses could be complemented by nighttime parking uses, thus eliminating the evening hour parking vacancies in those lots designed for daytime parking demands. The business-lease parking arrangement works in a similar manner: downtown businesses that have business-related parking spaces, of which 51 percent of the off-street parking is classified, could lease the spaces to downtown residential units based on vacancy rates or nighttime and daytime use rates. Finally, the city permit system would provide a permit for a fee to downtown residents to park in the on-street parking spaces beyond the 2-hour limit. This system has been implemented with great success in Amsterdam, which has a much higher density of downtown residents (van Ommeren, Wentink, and Dekkers, 2011).
In a completely different approach to the downtown development and parking problems, an investigation of alternative transportation options could be completed. The expansion of the Laramie/ UW bus system could reduce the need for automobiles and their subsequent parking requirements and provide access to other areas in the city for the downtown dwellers. The bus system could conversely provide transportation for citizens from around Laramie to the downtown area, and they would not need parking. Creating a more extensive network of bicycle routes into and through the downtown would also provide the infrastructure for an alternative to the automobile and possibly reduce a barrier to more alternative transportation usage.
Downtowns are vital to the economic and social character of a community. Laramie’s downtown is a vibrant place not only on football weekends, but also throughout the year because of its mixed use, residential capabilities, and availability of parking. As the downtown develops, it will be important to meet the needs of the citizens who live downtown along with the needs of the people visiting the downtown. A balance has to be created to meet the needs of these two groups so the dynamic power of the downtown continues into the future.