On Monday, the Richfield Planning Commission split 3-3 on a recommendation by planning staff to reduce parking minimums in mixed use zoning districts. In areas near transit, the plan would reduce minimum requirements from 1.5 to one space per unit. Outside of areas with high frequency transit, parking minimums would be made consistent with existing rules in high-density zoning districts — 1.25 spaces per unit.Continue reading “Richfield Considers Lowering Parking Minimums”
Wells Fargo had their appeal granted at the Zoning & Planning Committee yesterday. The vote was unanimous to allow the new Lake & Humboldt Wells Fargo to exceed the parking maximum by eight spaces–for a total of 25. As a condition of the parking variance, the bank will need to commit to sharing their lot with the neighborhood or a local business during non-banking hours.
The parking maximum is lower than it otherwise would be, because the site is located in the Lake and Hennepin Pedestrian Oriented Overlay District. This calls for a more pedestrian friendly environment, which includes smaller parking lots. A drive-thru, similarly prohibited by the district, was allowed by the Planning Commission last month.
One neighbor, concerned about street parking, was there to testify that biking and busing for a bank employee or customer is “unrealistic.” She called out a collection of working-class heroes by name and described how they drive 2-3 miles to work from Linden Hills (camera pans to the brave faces of Adrian, Marsha, and Georgianne, presumably parked next to Michelle Obama). Not very shrewd of these folks to eschew a 13-minute bus ride in favor of enduring the daily Uptown a-park-olypse. (I enjoyed her testimony. Watch the video below.)
I can’t understand the argument that a bank will bring parking disaster to the neighborhood. Banks are open during banking hours. Banking hours coincide with the time of day that many residents, even non-bankers, will have driven their cars off to work and parked them in someone else’s neighborhood. Council Member Lisa Goodman seemed to be thinking along those lines when she asked the Wells Fargo representative what their plans were for the empty lot during off hours. Answer: keep it empty.
@MattyLangMSP @nickmagrino Saw a pedestrian taking out money from the drive-through ATM the other day. Would’ve made a great photo.
— Anders (@imboande) January 4, 2016
Council President Barb Johnson made the social engineering argument, saying we shouldn’t use the parking maximum to “force people to use a particular form of transportation.” I should remind you that Barb had no problem forcing people build more parking when she weakened reforms to parking minimum regulations last year. And then there was her usual anecdote about how hard it is to find parking on her Uptown shopping trips. You may remember last year when Barb griped about that one time she had to walk a block and a half in Ward 10.
Despite approving the extra parking, the committee was largely in agreement that this is a pretty terrible project for this location. “It needs density, it needs more than one story, and there’s way too much surface parking,” said Andrew Johnson. Lisa Bender described the sentiment she hears from the neighborhood association as a question of “how do we get this project to totally change into a different form that’s not a single story building surrounded by surface parking?” It’s too late for that. Uptown is stuck with this over-parked, single-story, drive-thru bank for decades.
A Google search for “do people still go inside banks?” shows that, for some of us, physical banks are a thing of the past. Which means you might not be aware of the dangers of car-free banking. Read on, for a story every parent should see.
Yesterday, the Planning Commission considered Wells Fargo’s plans for a new branch building at the corner of Lake and Humboldt. The building would replace the bank’s existing structure built in 1973. The maximum number of car parking stalls allowed for the proposed building is 17. Wells Fargo wants 36.
A representative for Wells Fargo cited safety concerns, for employees and customers, as one reason the Planning Commission should allow double the parking maximum. Commissioner Ben Gisselman also had questions about safety:
When we’re talking about bank transactions, I feel like there is some argument that perhaps customers–I don’t know if this is legitimate or not–but perhaps customers do want the safety of having their vehicle there.
@happifydesign @mikesonn from watching that meeting, I gather it’s hugely dangerous to do your banking without a getaway car nearby.
— Wedge LIVE! (@WedgeLIVE) November 17, 2015
Considering the neighborhood context (frequent transit, multiple bikeways, walkability, density, the transportation preferences of nearby residents), Commissioner Nick Magrino expressed “surprise” that all 27 Wells Fargo employees at the site are driving themselves to work: “I think it’s probably possible that you’re sort of inducing some of that demand from the employees by having free parking available on site.”
The Planning Commission denied the request for 19 additional car stalls. They also required that three bike parking stalls be added at the bank’s Lake and Humboldt entrance. As a result of these two decisions, several long-time residents probably made dramatic Facebook pronouncements about moving to St. Paul.
Sam Rockwell, the lone commissioner to oppose the drive-thru, noted that the Hennepin-Lake area is a Pedestrian Overlay District, and the first rule of Pedestrian Overlay District is don’t talk about drive-thrus. Rockwell also pointed to the fact that the area has the fourth highest bicycle counts and the third highest pedestrian counts in the city. [to watch his entire remarks, visit SamRockwellSpeech.com]
It’s impossible to say whether the Millenials of tomorrow will make virtual banking transactions from a retractable kiosk mounted on the titanium-alloy ceiling of their driverless Space-Ubers. But even if we can’t know what banking will look like a decade from now, we do know that Uptown might be stuck with the banking equivalent of a VCR, in the form of a one-story drive-thru bank that could last 50 years.
Based on your past purchases, you might also like:
Rockwell’s Travel Guides – Drive-Thru Banking in Minneapolis