City Explores New Parking Regulations for Student Housing Developments

Last Thursday evening, City planners gave a presentation to a Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) that has been providing input for over a year on parking and housing related strategies for developments near colleges and universities.  The PowerPoint can be found HERE.

The group has been meeting and discussing numerous ideas to ease safety concerns voiced by students residing in certain rent-by-the-bedroom properties and to find solutions to parking issues that arise when students park in or around neighborhoods.

Several months ago, the group made the following recommendations on housing to staff:

    Prohibit rent-by-bedroom development in the zoning ordinanceLimit developments renting by bedroom to students onlyAmend the dormitory definition in the zoning ordinanceCreate public/private partnerships between Universities and developers/management companiesLimit development renting by bedroom to specific zoning districtsAmend the building code to include increased safety measuresAmend the City’s Rental Registration Ordinance

After considering each recommendation and researching the practicality of implementation, staff reported that due to certain provisions of the Fair Housing Act and the finding of the Appeals Court in Graham Court Associates v. Town Council of the Town of Chapel Hill, they were precluded from moving forward on any of the recommendations.  Instead, they asked representatives from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) to provide a presentation on the soon-to-be-unveiled Niner Choice Program.

Developed with the assistance of UNCC officials, Niner Choice would provide a favorability score to multi-family developments that chose to participate.  Property managers for these properties would then be free to use this rating in their marketing materials.  During the presentation, several representatives for the property managers repeatedly expressed concern regarding the legality of such a program.  Assurances from UNCC and Police Department representatives did not seem to ease their concerns.

As it relates to parking, the following recommendations were presented to the group:

    Amend University City Area Plan to implement parking maximums for new multifamily development surrounding UNCC.CATS/UNCC consider extending shuttle service times/routes.Analyze Bike and Pedestrian network and assess need for new sidewalks and bike lanes.Assess need for bike share stations along proposed Blue Line Extension and surrounding UNCC.Explore the need for Zip Cars or other car sharing programs.Study the possibility of shared parking agreements with property owners.Assess areas where on-street parking could be provided.

Several members of the development community expressed doubt that implementing parking maximums for new multi-family developments would achieve the desired outcome of students leaving their cars at home.  Despite a rather long, and at times vigorous discussion, staff told the group it was going to take the recommendations to the Transportation and Planning Committee and present them at the October 21st meeting.  They will then report back to the CAG sometime in early November.

REBIC will continue to monitor the progress of the CAG and advocate for the interests of our members.

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