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Parking Mandates Threaten To Derail Dorm-Style Apartments Near SDSU

August 29, 2018 1:39 p.m.

Parking Mandates Threaten To Derail Dorm-Style Apartments Near SDSU


Andrew Bowen, metro reporter, KPBS News

Related Story: Parking Mandates Threaten To Derail Dorm-Style Apartments Near SDSU


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh new goals are bumping up against old standards at San Diego city hall and a proposed student housing project is caught right in the middle. The goals in question are in the city's climate action plan which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the number of cars on the road. Advocates are urging more high density housing within walking distance of transit. That's just what the proposed development in the college district provides. But city staff is giving a thumbs down to the project precisely because it does not provide enough parking. Joining me is PBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen and Andrew welcome thank you. Hi. What kind of a housing project is this and where is it located.

It's essentially a private off campus dormitory so it's a 128 one bedroom apartments with private bathrooms a small sink and a fridge and a shared kitchen and some shared communal space like a lounge on each floor on a rooftop deck and it's currently right now a vacant lot. On Montezuma's so it's not displacing any other sort of development southeast of campus and it's right next to some other student oriented apartments and right across the street from an sdf new parking garage.

So how close is it to DSU and to public transit in the area.

It's less than a half a mile to campus also less than a half a mile to the DSU trolley and bus station that serves a lot of different routes. So it's exactly where numerous city planning documents say high density housing should go.

You say there's S.G. is huge student parking right across the street. How many parking units would be in this new development.

So there will be three levels of underground parking that would provide 57 spaces so that's not quite one parking spot for every two tenants of the building. The developer says as part of a transportation demand management program he would be charging students separately for a parking space. This is called unbundled parking where you pay your rent and then you pay a separate fee for parking space and he would require that if a tenant has a car they must either rent and onsite parking space or buy an asset yes you parking pass and that's the aim of that is to really reduce the demand for on street parking and also car ownership.

OK so getting back to what these city staffers are looking at what's the standard that the city uses to determine how much parking development should have.

The city has various parking formulas for different land uses and they can get pretty complicated. It depends on where the development is of course is it apartments versus a detached home subsidized or market rate proximity to other amenities like grocery stores or retail and the city formula says that this project should have seventy eight parking spaces so its 21 parking space is short. The developer says that number is simply infeasible economically. Parking spaces a very costly amenity to build especially when they have to go underground it involves engineering and grading and things like that. And of course that cost is added to the rent that the developers or the landowners charge the tenants which is part of why rent is so expensive in San Diego. Also given the proximity to the parking garage across the street to the transit center to campus he says the fact is that many students won't have cars and this extra parking is simply unnecessary so he's taking kind of a gamble and saying you know the city staff maybe disagree with me on this but I'm going to take my case to the city council so the developers LC partners are the developers of this project.

They've built student housing in other cities. What have they found out about the way students use transportation.

He says the fact is that students simply want to be able to walk to campus to their classes and fewer. It's true that fewer people young people nowadays are getting driver's licenses. Many young people are riding those electric scooters we see around San Diego or bikes. Younger people simply want to live a multi-modal lifestyle. That's not to say we'll never drive or they'll never get in a car but perhaps instead of owning a car they'll drive a shared car or perhaps they'll just take Uber and Lyft around or they'll be driven around by a self driving car so personal car ownership and needing a parking space to store that car hardware is just going to sit completely unused 95 percent of the time doesn't appear to be the future of mobility or the world that this younger generation wants to live in.

Now the number of parking spaces that's an issue for this development is also an issue for a lot of other developments and it's apparently slowing down the city's efforts to build more high density housing. When is the city going to review the requirement for parking spaces in new construction.

So last year Mayor Kevin Faulconer unveiled a package of reforms called housing Asadi and it's aimed at making housing more affordable in San Diego. Part of that included a new parking standard for so-called transit priority areas or areas within a half mile of a major transit hub. It's unclear what that proposal or that revamp of the parking standards will look like. Some advocates say there's simply no need for the government to prescribe how many parking spaces should be there. We can leave it up to the free market and that developers know full well how much demand there is for park in any given area. The original timeline for bringing this proposal to the city council was winter 2018 a mayoral spokesman told me that early next year is more likely.

I've been speaking with KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen and Andrew thanks.

Thanks Maureen.