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UTC puts free parking in its crosshairs

Friday, February 16, 2018 by Caleb Pritchard

The Urban Transportation Commission on Tuesday night approved a recommendation for City Council to revise parking regulations that encourage the widespread use of single-occupant vehicles. The recommendation, sponsored by Commissioner Kelly Davis, calls on Council to consider “reducing the number of vehicular parking spaces and allowing parking requirements to be met through alternative approaches demonstrated to reduce parking demand and (greenhouse gas) emissions, such as on-site car-sharing, bicycle parking, and transit passes.” It also urges the city to develop a “model commute reduction program” that gradually weans city employees in transit-rich locations off of free parking through the use of incentives. Commissioner Michael Wilfley expressed concerns that this last part could adversely harm some city workers. “You have a situation where most of them live outside of the city of Austin,” said Wilfley. “They can’t afford to live in Austin, so you’re penalizing them for living in Buda.” Davis responded that the city’s Community Climate Action Plan already calls for the phasing out of free parking for city employees and that she simply wants to accelerate that process. The recommendation also urges Council to update the climate plan “to prioritize and include transportation recommendations to implement high-capacity public transit.” The UTC passed the recommendation on a 9-0 vote with Commissioner Chris Hosek absent from the meeting.

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