On Thursday, Austin City Council approved a measure to create a committee dedicated to tackling parking issues on the east side.
The newly formed East Austin Parking and Transportation Management District covers Lady Bird Lake north to East 11th Street and I-35 Frontage Road east to Chicon Street, with special attention paid to the area surrounding the Saltillo Plaza development.
The new committee, which includes the East Austin Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Association, Guadalupe Neighborhood Association and an East Austin merchant group, will work in conjunction with the Austin Transportation Department to identify parking challenges in the neighborhood and offer solutions to increase both turnover and revenue. (According to the Austin American-Statesman, the city estimates first-year revenue for the east side to top out around $88,100.)
Among the key challenges identified in the application are spillover parking from downtown, the neighborhood's reputation as a late-night entertainment district, and construction traffic, all of which have increased dramatically over the past six years or so. The committee suggests parking meters, shared parking (for businesses open at different hours), residential parking permits and zoning to create special designations (like loading and taxi/pedicab pick-up zones) among the key solutions to tackling the area's parking woes.
But, as nonprofit transportation advocacy group ATX Safer Streets pointed out, the application doesn't address parking for the industry workers who run the neighborhood's bars, music venues and restaurants. Considering these late-night attractions are a driving force in the local economy, ATX Safer Streets says including parking options for industry workers is critical to maintaining the city's reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World.
Says the group,
We understand the need to make parking available for the customers patronizing East Austin businesses (who will also be able to leave their cars at meters overnight if they've been drinking); we want the City of Austin to understand that the people working at those businesses need a place to park as well.
Austin City Council also approved a similar measure on Thursday for the Mueller development. As the application points out, Mueller is nearly 40 percent complete, and is expected to house more than 13,000 residents, 13,000 jobs and more than 4.2 million square feet of retail space by the time it is finished.
Like the East Austin PTMD, the Mueller committee is considering solutions including metered parking, residential permits and validated parking options. The city projects parking changes in the Mueller development to bring in about $33,000 in revenue in the first year.