City considers incentive program to reduce parking

City considers incentive program to reduce parking

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KVUE -- Parking spaces are a hot commodity all over Austin. And trying to find a space in the popular areas East or South of downtown is described by University of Texas student Sadie Wolfe as "pretty terrible."

"I usually bike," Wolfe added.

Parking spots are coveted by drivers and often despised by the people that have to pay for them.

"Each parking space costs approximately $3,500," said City of Austin Development Services Manager George Zapalac.

Complicating the equation is the City's lack of open land.

"The problem is that we're running out of space to accommodate all the vehicles on the road and we're having to devote a lot of space to parking," said Zapalac.

To combat the parking problem, Austin City Council wants to develop a program that would reduce the amount of land devoted to parking. The City staff suggests a one-year incentive program called the Parking Reduction Incentive Pilot Program.

The program will reduce the number of parking spaces the City requires a business to have if that business offers incentives for it's employees and customers to walk, ride a bike, carpool or use mass transit.

"The developer might provide a free bus pass for example so they wouldn't have to pay the cost of taking the bus and they can try it and may decide they like it better than driving," said Zapalac.

The pilot program is open to businesses outside of downtown that are looking to expand or move into an existing building.

"There's more people but no more space so I think that's probably a really good way to get people biking and busing and trains, maybe," said Wolfe.

"I think that if the City wanted to give the company vouchers, then that's good," said Dana Eitches who runs an art gallery in East Austin. 

Still, critics of the program say there are too many accidents involving drivers and bicyclist and that having to carry shopping bags without a car would be too difficult. They also note that the mass transit system in Austin is not up to par.


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