Parking task force approves recommendations for city council

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COLUMBIA - The Parking and Traffic Management Task Force voted and approved its recommendations for the city council.

The city created the task force to look at problems with parking downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods and make recommendations on steps city council should take to fix these problems. The task force's main recommendation is to make a permanent parking and traffic commission since the task force was only approved for six months.

"We don't feel we have had time to come to solid recommendations on all the issues that we're dealing with downtown and neighborhood parking, so the idea is that we would recommend to council that we form a permanent commission," said Leah Christian, city management fellow. "They'll have time to really get into these issues."

The rest of the recommendations are things for the commission to consider later, including a fee in lieu of parking program.

"A fee in lieu, if you're a developer, you can come in and say, 'Instead of building that parking, I'm just going to pay, and then the city can choose how they want to spend those funds,'" Christian said.

Those funds generally get used for parking infrastructure. The task force also had to make recommendations for zoning.

"Our current requirement for downtown residential development is to build one parking space per four bedrooms," Christian said. "This task force has been discussing whether to keep that at the same rate or to increase that requirement or decrease that requirement."

The task force voted Wednesday night to keep the requirement as it is but to have it reviewed every two years.

"Downtown parking, currently people feel challenged, but there are a lot of really good strategic solutions, and our task force and hopefully future commission, as well as city staff and city council, is working to find the solutions to those challenges," Christian said.

The task force has three meetings left, where they will discuss parking permit management strategies and subcommittee recommendations.