TRAVERSE CITY — October 5 could be the day Traverse City’s residential parking minimum is put out to the curb.

City commissioners on Monday could set up a future vote to repeal the current requirement of one parking space per dwelling.

That applies in most zoning districts except C-4 and in the Grand Traverse Commons, according to a memo from city Planner Russ Soyring. Parking spaces are also not required within 500 feet of a parking deck or the Bay Area Transportation Authority’s Hall Street Transfer Station.

Planning commissioners recommended dropping the requirement with the idea that it could open up more opportunities for housing and make it cheaper to build, as previously reported.

But planning commissioner Brian McGillivary previously said he doubted it would make much of a difference, as market forces would push most to build parking just as they determine housing prices.

Christie Minervini serves on both the city and planning commission, and said she understands the argument, but thinks the city should step out of the way. Removing the parking minimum wouldn’t ban off-street parking for residents who already have it, or those who want to build it. Nor would it be a “silver bullet” that brings more affordable housing.

“What I’m saying is, leave it up to the developer and leave it up to the tenant, they’re the ones who are going to decide what’s right for them,” she said.

The change likely wouldn’t cause a huge shift but it could encourage people to use other modes of transportation, like riding a bike or the bus, Minervini said. It also could encourage developers to create options for renters who don’t need a car.

City Commissioner Tim Werner agreed any change from removing the requirement would likely be slow, but dropping it could make room for a new approach.

“The city’s not taking the risk, current homeowners and renters are not taking the risk, it’s future homeowners, property owners and renters that are willing to take the risk, they’re the ones that will try it, and it might work for some and it certainly won’t work for others,” he said.

Minervini repeatedly stressed that the change wouldn’t allow overnight parking on city streets — that would remain banned, she said. A good deal of concern she heard from residents seemed to stem from confusion that overnight parking would be allowed.

The proposal prompted residents concerned about how it could impact the city’s neighborhoods to send in numerous emails voicing concerns that their streets could become parking lots — city resident Deni Scrudato, one of the writers, previously said the idea seemed like another giveaway to developers at the expense of neighborhoods.

Car-lined streets are an issue in neighborhoods near commercial districts where employees, shoppers and diners go in search of free parking, Minervini agreed. But she doesn’t believe dropping the residential parking minimum will cause problems in the neighborhoods.

Neither does Werner, he said. Anyone living in a house or apartment without its own parking spot isn’t likely to stay there long if they need somewhere to put their car, because they still couldn’t use the street for overnight parking.

“Somebody’s not going to pay a ticket every night for a year just so they can park on the street,” he said.


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