“Parking has been a problem for many years, and I don’t want to move forward with less parking requirements,” Councilman Jess Talamantes said. “I am not going there unless there’s a justification that just wows me.”
The downtown district, pegged as a regional employment center by the Southern California Assn. of Governments, has long been at the crux of the city’s efforts to institute standards that allow for smart growth, planners said.
Deputy City Planner Michael Forbes expected to see resistance to the proposed parking changes, but said that in many cases the change would not be as dramatic as the council may have thought.
He added that the original draft could be tweaked.
“It’s certainly not an all-or-nothing package,” Forbes said.
Planners over the last year worked with the consulting firm Design, Community & Environment to craft standards for mixed-use commercial and residential projects.
While the current codes focus on regulating specific land uses, the new standards incorporate existing building styles, said Bill Fulton, principal planning analyst for Design, Community & Environment, which produced the draft report.
Councilman David Gordon maintained that the city has been less successful with mixed-use projects than officials would let on. The former Planning Board member pointed specifically to the Burbank Collection.
“It’s a dinosaur sitting there, and I don’t believe it’s anywhere close to being fully rented or sold,” Gordon said. “This needs to be looked at way more carefully because I think some of the proposals can hurt us.”
The proposed rules would cap buildings between two and seven stories, depending on the neighborhood’s character and surrounding structures.
Other stipulations would make it easier to push through projects administratively rather than going before the Planning Board or City Council.
“It has to come back for some of these things for discretionary approval,” Gordon said.
While bicycle parking requirements across downtown would be increased, parking reductions would be permitted where buildings occupants share space, said Jeff Williams, an associate at Design, Community & Environments.
“For the most part, there’s not a lot of flexibility for developers to do something different if they think the market will accept it,” Williams said.
Still, Mayor Gary Bric questioned the push for alternative forms of transportation at the expense of drivers, and cited a lack of interest in a citywide bicycle master plan to boost his argument.
“I don’t see the people really jumping on it right now,” Bric said.