Houston Paves Way for Special Parking Districts

The rules are aimed at creating density in the inner loop and addressing the problem of retail and restaurant patrons parking on neighborhood streets.

The new parking ordinance covers everything from how many spaces restaurants, bars, hotels and retailers must provide, to requiring bicycle parking in some lots and prohibiting businesses from using all of their parking spaces for tents and parties.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker says the city intentionally built flexibility into the plan by allowing neighborhoods to create special parking districts that could develop their own version of rules.

“The goal was to have a more flexible ordinance, so that as we densify as a city, particularly in the inner city inside Loop 610. [We want to] have more flexibility, and we recognize changing demographics, changing lifestyles and the increasing presence of mass transit.”

Businesses along the Washington Avenue corridor already created a parking district with rules for metered and street parking and special allowances for lots with valet services.

That district could serve as a model for other parts of town.

“This is designed to make sure that no one permanently converts their parking spaces to non-parking uses. And again, we lowered the number of parking spaces required in many cases. And we created the special parking district solution, so that if they want to do that, they actually have a mechanism they can come talk to us about it.”

The Montrose neighborhood is likely to develop its own parking plan soon in partnership with the city.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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