Council Backtracks on Tandem Parking Requirements

This is kind of a wonky planning issue but it revealed a lot about how the City has worked to accommodate developers and their desire to develop as densely as possible in residential areas.

‘Tandem’ parking is where two cars will be parked one behind the other. Of course, the issue is that it’s not at all as convenient to use as two side-by-side parking spaces in a garage. Given that, people living in houses with two tandem parking spaces will tend to use them as only one parking space and use on-street parking for a second vehicle if needed.

Developers like this to use tandem parking as it allows them to increase density and lessen the frontage on their homes that is garages. (There are many dense developments where a large stretch of the streetscape is mainly garages as seen in this photo.) From the City’s perspective, they’re really not providing the same amount of parking spaces if they use tandem parking which, again, can put a burden on the public streets.

Staff had recommended an ordinance be drafted allowing for no more than 30% of a project’s parking needs handled by tandem parking. The Planning Commission had recommended a more restricted use of tandem parking by allowing it only in R-3 (a higher density residential zoning) and in TOD (Transit-Oriented Development) areas.

I’ve seen it several times where the Planning Commission recommends something stricter than staff has recommended only to have the Council reject their recommendation and go with the staff recommendation. The opposite happened here. On February 16 the Council went along with the restriction for R-3 and also reduced the amount of tandem parking allowed to 20%. This was approved by a 3-2 vote. I was quite happy about what we had done.

But my happiness was short lived. When the ordinance came around for final approval last week, not only did Council go back to the 30% that staff recommended, they went back on the restrictions where tandem parking can be used. The Tri-City Voice wrote an interesting editorial on this.

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