Bicycle Parking Ordinance Passes City Planning Commission

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission today took a step towards making Los Angeles a truly bicycle friendly city.  In a unanimous vote, the Commission adopted a Bicycle Parking Ordinance that would vastly expand the number of new bike parking spaces required in new developments of all kinds throughout Los Angeles. You can follow the blow-by-blows of the hearing at the twitter feed BikeBlogChris, or the hashtags #bikeLA and #lamtg.  You can download a copy of the pdf here.

Over 15 dedicated bicyclists and advocates showed up in City Hall Room 350 today to support the ordinance.  Kudos are due to Rye Baerg, the driving force behind the ordinance in the City Planning Department, and all the dedicated members of the public who have helped the ordinance reach where it is today.

Thanks, Rye (image courtesy LACBC)

The next step for the Bicycle Parking Ordinance is a hearing before the PLUM (Planning & Land Use Management) Committee.  Once through PLUM, the ordinance goes to a full hearing before the City Council before becoming part of the City’s municipal code.  When the ordinance is agendized from the PLUM Committee, we’ll be sure to let you know.

Bike Parking Desperately Needed in LA

Increasing the scope and size of the City’s bicycle parking requirements has been a long-held dream of the Los Angeles Bicycle Community.  The current bike parking requirement, for those who don’t know, only requires bike parking at the rate of 2% of car parking, and only for Commercial and Manufacturing zones for buildings over 10,000 square feet.  So yeah, not a lot of required bike parking.

A quick perusal of Rick Risemberg’s work at Bicycle Fixation, or Josef Bray-Ali’s impassioned plea for a more comprehensive approach (behind a subscription firewall – sorry), just shows what a hot-button issue bicycle parking has been over the last few years.

As covered in previous months on LADOT Bike Blog, LACBC’s blog, and Streetsblog, City Planning has been working on a proposal to beef up the requirements for bicycle parking for some time.  While the Planning Commission first heard the ordinance some months ago, there were concerns with a few of the particulars.  In today’s hearing, City Planning reported back on the changes made to the ordinance to address the Commission’s concerns.  Namely, commissioners worried that too many bike racks installed along the sidewalk would impede access to parked cars (and violate ADA requirements), that the percentage of car/bike parking swaps for new development would undermine affordable housing density bonuses, that adequate repair space for bicycles be provided in larger developments, and about the imposition of an in-lieu fee for developers who didn’t build bike parking.

Ordinance Changes

In all, 10 policy changes have been made to the ordinance, including:

  • Better standards for the types of bike racks used.
  • Better definitions and requirements for short-term and long-term bike parking.
  • Allowing only 1 bike rack per 50 feet of frontage on the sidewalk to avoid crowding.
  • Reducing the car/bike parking swap allowed from 20% to 10% on commercial corridors and 30% to 15% in Transit Oriented Development (TOD) areas.
  • Car/bike parking swaps are now floor-plate neutral.  (These last two changes were made to not interfere with low-income housing density bonuses.  Housing advocates worried that if developers could simply shrink their floorplate by reducing the number of parking spots required, they would forgo construction of affordable housing units to gain a density bonus).
  • Every development requiring 25 or more long-term bicycle parking spaces will also need to include at least 100 square feet of bicycle repair and maintenance space for residents and employees.
  • The establishment of a “bike parking fund” that developers would pay fees to in-lieu of providing bike parking themselves.  This idea is very conceptual right now and may be rolled into the “Bicycle Trust Fund” that is identified in the 2010 LA Bike Plan.  The idea is still being worked out by representative from the CAO and the Mayor’s Office.

Comments and Discussion

Public comment was almost uniformly positive, with representatives from the LACBC, the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee, and a few affordable housing organizations all speaking in support.  Glenn Bailey of the BAC urged the Commission to also require all City buildings to have bike parking in line with the standards of the new ordinance.  There was also a call to require more bicycle parking in City parks.

The Commission then discussed the finer points of a possible Bicycle Trust Fund, whether in-lieu fees were fair, and how to create a better definition of park space in LA so smaller parks can be required to have bicycle parking as well.  After getting assurances from City Planning that the Commission’s concerns would be addressed, the Bike Parking Ordinance passed with a unanimous vote.

0 replies
  1. Tanya Edwards
    Tanya Edwards says:

    I wish I would have known about this event, I would have loved to come out and cover this for the City Employees Club Alive Newspaper. It would have given great exposure to the event to over 20,000 city employees. Please keep me posted on future events such as this so we can make sure you get the coverage these issues deserve.

    Reply
  2. Niall Huffman
    Niall Huffman says:

    I’m really annoyed at how the affordable housing community has gotten such a bug up its butt re: relaxed parking requirements. The bonus density itself (i.e., extra dwelling units), NOT lower/more flexible parking standards, is the primary incentive in SB 1818, the state’s density bonus law. They’re actually hurting the cause of affordable housing by insisting on keeping unnecessarily high parking requirements for market-rate units. Lower overall parking requirements (and flexibility in meeting them) = less money spent digging out $50k/space parking garages = cheaper market-rate units for people who choose to go car-free = more affordable housing for everyone.

    Is this some kind of perverse rent-seeking by nonprofit developers specializing in subsidized, income-restricted units (i.e., trying to protect their special parking incentives while denying similar flexibility to market-rate developers)? Why the myopic focus on this issue, despite the fact that it flies in the face of the actual economics of affordable housing development and state density bonus law?

    Reply
  3. Josef Bray-Ali
    Josef Bray-Ali says:

    I am pleased to have discovered a new group of people to openly mock: “affordable housing advocates”.

    What a bunch of clowns.

    Oh! Those dastardly developers! If they can build a smaller building, using less cash, and not building a bunch of wasteful car parking then we won’t be able to lock them into “affordable housing” contracts.

    Hey, how about this? Affordable housing is housing that doesn’t have the 20% to 40% premium for 1.5 to 2.5 covered car parking spaces that all new spaces need for residential. Hey, real affordability without a bunch of whinging losers chasing you with paperwork? Affordability with built-in cost savings for the developer, property manager, tenant, or owner along with long term health and local economic benefits?

    Nah, better to make housing MORE expensive to build by requiring lots of car parking with no alternatives and then, at the ass end of the processes stick on some “density bonuses” to wrap everything up in more paperwork.

    Reply
  4. Evan
    Evan says:

    Can you explain more about the 1 bike rack per 50 feet of frontage? Does that mean that there can only be 1 rack every 50 feet, or can more be grouped together if there is a greater distance before the next grouping of racks?

    If it’s the former, then would that make the racks in the photo at the top of the blog illegal in LA?

    Reply
    • ladotbikeblog
      ladotbikeblog says:

      Evan, I heard back from Rye and this is what he had to say:

      The ordinance doesn’t actually limit where in the right-of-way bicycle
      racks are installed except that they must be 50 feet from the main
      entrance if a building wants to count them towards their requirements.
      What this section does refer to is that a building can not count more
      than one rack per 50 feet of frontage area located within the public
      right of way. If a building was 400 ft. long it could count 8 bike
      racks (16 spaces) towards its requirements, and these could be located
      within the public right-of-way if they applied for and received a
      permit from BOE. BOE has strict standards for installing bicycle
      parking within the right-of-way so buildings may be limited by these
      restrictions.

      Reply
      • Evan
        Evan says:

        Thanks. Not sure I understand the intention behind the 50 feet minimum from the main entrance requirement.

        Also, agreed with Rick…rather than putting maximums on racks within a certain area, there should be minimums as well.

        Reply
        • Niall Huffman
          Niall Huffman says:

          It actually sounds like the 50 feet from the entrance is a minimum distance rather than a maximum, to make sure that the rack being counted toward the requirement isn’t too far from the businesses inside the building. That is, Rye probably meant to say that the racks “must be *no more than* 50 feet from the main entrance.”

          Reply
          • Niall Huffman
            Niall Huffman says:

            D’oh! I just re-read this comment. I should have written “It actually sounds like the 50 feet from the entrance is a *maximum* distance rather than a *minimum*”

  5. Rick Risemberg
    Rick Risemberg says:

    Really, the one rack per 50 feet is absurd. We already crowd cars in at two or more per fifty feet. Bike corrals will remain hard to place in LA because of merchant shortsightedness and unwillingness to look beyond their gut reactions. And certainly two or three bike racks at current spacing don’t crowd the sidewalks–they are always placed out in lien with parking meters, ie out of the walking area.

    We should require a minimum of one rack per 100′ of retail/service frontage.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] kept readers up to date on this ordinance as it underwent review by the Planning Commission and other committees.  Chances are, if you follow the bike blog, you get it. Bicycle parking is […]

  2. […] to pg.7) or review the ordinance via previous blogs posts when the bill was first reviewed by City Planning and the Planning Commission. If approved by the Planning & Land Use Committee, the ordinance […]

  3. […] L.A.’s proposed bike parking ordinance has passed the city Planning Commission, and moves on to the City Council Planning and Land Use […]

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