On a busy weekend night, Home Slice Pizza on College Drive had 28 customers in its restaurant but only one car in its parking lot because 10 customers came by bicycle and the rest walked, noted owner Lynn Kitch.
It wasnt like that 10 years ago, Kitch said during a city meeting on proposed parking regulations Monday. I really feel like the culture is changing.
The proposed regulations are supposed to reflect Durangos multi-modal culture where the car is not the dominant life form, said Todd Messenger, a planning consultant from the Aurora firm of Kendig Keast.
Compared with the national average of 90 percent of commuters driving by themselves to work, only 63 percent of Durango commuters drive to work by themselves as the remainder gets to work by bicycling, carpooling, walking or taking public transit, Messenger said. He cited 2000 U.S. Census data since commuting data from the 2010 Census has not been released yet.
To simplify current parking regulations, which have been amended throughout the last 30 years, Messenger is proposing three different parking districts with varying degrees of parking requirements because the demand for parking varies around town. There is a downtown parking district, a general parking district, and an enhanced multi-modal area, such as College Drive.
The city also would reduce requirements for parking spaces for a developer who did things such as providing more space for bicycles, volunteering to restrict occupancy in residential units, or providing a shuttle service.
More detail can be found at durangocodeupdate.com.
The City Council also will review the same proposals during a special study session at 4 p.m. Wednesday in City Council Chambers.
The city is in the middle of a yearlong process of revising its land-use development code.
Some of the proposals have been cause for trepidation for residents of the historic neighborhood along Third Avenue.
Susan Davies said the neighborhood is under the double threat of increased parking and congestion as the result of calls by City Council to ease code restrictions so more people can live downtown and in accessory dwelling units, or mother-in-law apartments.
To ease concerns on accessory dwellings, Messenger and senior planner Greg Hoch suggested Third Avenue residents lobby the City Council to adopt suggested regulations like setting a maximum unit space of 550 square feet and requiring accessory dwelling units to provide at least one parking space.
The city staff already feels under attack for being too cautious with the proposed accessory-dwelling unit regulations, Hoch said.
Messenger said there is good reason for caution.
Once you give away the farm, you cant get the farm back, he said.
One current regulation planners dont want to touch is the city code allowing a maximum of five unrelated people living in the same house. This seems to be the third rail of Durango politics since its so popular with landlords, planners said.
In a college town like Durango, a landlord can easily earn $2,000 a month charging five students $400 each to rent out a house.
Messenger suggested that a Supreme Court ruling based on the principle of free association would make it difficult to change the five-people rule, but other participants at the meeting noted that other college towns like Fort Collins and Boulder have successfully reduced their quotas to a maximum of four to three unrelated people living in the same house.