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Atlanta City Council fails to eliminate parking minimums near the Beltline

City Council votes to prohibit new drive-throughs and gas stations near the Beltline, but stops short of an important proposal for eliminating parking requirements

We’re happy that Atlanta City Council voted yesterday to prohibit building new drive-through and drive-in buildings within a half-mile of the Beltline in an effort to limit car traffic. They also banned new gas stations within a half-mile of the Beltline.

Good stuff. Making this area less focused on cars is progress.

But it’s very concerning to hear the reasons Council refused to also eliminate parking minimums near the Beltline. To be clear, this wouldn’t prohibit new parking. It would simply eliminate the government mandate to provide it.

Counclimember Alex Wan said: “There were some concerns raised also from various communities about the impact this has on eating and drinking establishments, particularly as it impacts the process for alcohol license applications.”

By which he likely means that people want to be able to require parking for restaurants because they’re afraid customers will park on their streets, and that people want to require parking for bars to add some expense to their construction in the hopes of deterring certain businesses.

Which is sad. Eliminating parking minimums is a progressive policy happening in cities all over the nation. This reasoning for keeping them near the Beltline is very suburban in nature. These are the concerns of people who want to keep Atlanta suburban, even near its hallmark urban path/transit project.

Meanwhile, Councilmember Antonio Lewis said communities near the Beltline have repeatedly oppose developments with reduced or no parking — and that he wants them to continue to have that power. He added: “I want to caution us as we look at the ‘no parking’ in the south and in Atlanta.”

Which is a complete misrepresentation of the ordinance. It doesn’t prohibit parking. It allows the freedom to be progressive in parking ratios for new construction, as a city should.

Two steps forward, one step firmly in a suburbs-in-the-city past.

Council’s Jason Dozier, who championed this proposal, says the ordinance is not dead and that he’ll work to bring it back.