Columbia City Council to vote on parking requirements for businesses

Watch WIS News 10 at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 8:03 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - If you drive in the City of Columbia, your search for parking could soon be a different experience.

The Columbia City Council is scheduled to vote on an ordinance which would eliminate and reduce requirements for some businesses (depending on size and location) to create or obtain off-street parking.

The proposed ordinance would not prohibit businesses from creating their own parking if they choose. It will affect areas zoned for business, including North Main, Fort Jackson Boulevard, and Bull Street among others.

The council approved the first reading on Sept. 20, meaning the vote on Tuesday, Oct. 4 is the last hurdle.

District Four Councilman Joe Taylor Jr. is a proponent of the ordinance and its potential impact on small businesses.

“We saw some small businesses where our requirements for parking was basically handicapping their ability to open,” he said.

He later stated:

“We asked them all to dedicate a big portion of their land to have onsite parking requirements when the reality is the land under the car costs as much as the land under the table. One makes money and one doesn’t.”

The ordinance removes parking requirements for multiple zoning areas for businesses 7,500 sq. ft. or less.

Parking Ordinance by T R on Scribd

Council documents show city staff supports the ordinance’s approval, citing a reduction in urban sprawl, the positive impact it would have on multi-family housing costs, and the exacerbating effects of parking lots on flooding.

Columbia College President Dr. Tom Bogart expressed his support for the potential development it would allow. He said the college is aiming to develop land at the intersection of Columbia College Boulevard and North Main Street.

He said the existing parking requirements are not practical nor possible for the land, and the college needs “flexibility.”

“Everyone that’s currently on campus either lives there or has already parked there and so to pretend that we need a parking place for them to me doesn’t really work,” he said.

It’s unclear what the development will be, but he identified a restaurant as a need for the college community.

Support isn’t universal, however. The ordinance reduces the number of parking spots required for dorms. Council documents include an email from Vista Neighborhood Association President Bart Walrath.

It read alleged a lack of parking spots for students has led to illegal parking and was a hazard for his community. It read in part:

Currently, many vehicles are parked daily and subsequently ticketed at expired meters near Pulaski and Lady. Perhaps the individuals currently suffering the most are those small business owners in the area whose customers have difficulty finding close-by parking. I urge City Council not to revise the Off Street Parking Standards in City Ordinances to endorse recurrence of this situation.

Walrath sent the email the morning of Sept. 20, the day council approved the first ready. He re-affirmed his position on Monday.

“Require fewer yet parking spaces per ordinance is just sticking your head in the sand,” he said.

WIS asked Taylor about the consequences of the ordinance for the availability of parking in the city.

He said in part:

“I think one of things we’re going to have to look at is re-think the way we park on the street and how do we get those student cars and get them into our empty parking garages every night you know, and you do that probably by extending your parking meter hours and some other things like that.”

The meeting is at 4 p.m. at the city council chambers on Tuesday.

Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article’s headline.