Will the City Kick the Old Rules to the Curb?
For the past year or so, the Kimley-Horn parking gurus have been lurking about Park Avenue, Hannibal Square and the Orange Avenue corridor scoping out parking lots and counting cars. They are scrutinizing parking codes that have remained essentially unchanged since the 1970s.
1970s — Merchants vs. Restaurateurs
The codes weren’t entirely static, however. There was some back-and-forth caused by competition between retail merchants and restaurateurs for parking on Park Avenue. In the early 1970s, there were four restaurants on Park Avenue. By 1982, that number had increased to 18, and the retailers were feeling the pinch.
1980s – Too Many Restaurants!
In response to an outcry from Park Avenue merchants, the city formed a Downtown Parking Advisory Commission to study the problem. In 1983, the Commission adopted their recommendation and passed an ordinance that new restaurants could be approved only when they provided sufficient parking. Bakeries, coffee shops, ice cream and dessert shops were exempted from the new rule.
2000s — Enter Winter Park Village
Move forward 20 years to 2003. Winter Park Village opened with four fancy new restaurants and a movie theater with stadium seating. It quickly became the place to be. Once again, Park Avenue merchants felt the pinch, but this time it was because there weren’t enough restaurants. La Belle Verrierre, East India Ice Cream Company and Two Flights Up had all closed, reducing by 400 the number of restaurant seats. All three locations converted to retail.
2003 – Not Enough Restaurants!
So, in 2003, the Commission saw the wisdom of attracting restaurants and the associated foot traffic to Park Avenue to improve the retail climate. They passed an ordinance that allowed new ‘fine dining’ restaurants (with wait staff and table service) on Park Avenue to open without providing the incremental increase in parking. This zoning change quickly produced the desired effect. Since 2003, 17 new restaurants have opened along Park Avenue – adding a whopping 1,471 new restaurant seats.
2018 – Too Many Restaurants!
Based on the current Central Business District (CBD) parking code of one parking place per four restaurant seats, those 1,471 seats equate to 372 parking spaces. Those 17 new restaurants replaced former retail locations. Compare the retail parking requirement with that for restaurants, and under the present code you end up with a parking deficit of 207 spaces. Basically, this puts the city right back where it was 36 years ago.
2018 – The Pendulum Swings Back
That brings us to the August 7, 2018 meeting of the Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Board. City Planner Jeff Briggs presented a draft parking ordinance affecting the CBD, Hannibal Square and the Orange Avenue corridor.
The draft ordinance, which has six components, was not an action item – it was up for discussion only. A summary of the proposed ordinance follows.
1.Retail to Restaurant Conversions
The ordinance removes the ability to convert retail or office space to restaurant without providing the required parking spaces. This change is supported by Comprehensive Plan Policy 1-G-3: “Preserve Park Avenue as a retail shopping district with complementary restaurant destinations, maintaining existing Future Land Use Map designations and zoning and prohibiting bars and nightclubs.”
2.New Retail & Office Requirements
The proposed ordinance changes parking requirements for new retail and office from one space per 250 square feet to one space per 350 square feet.
3.Large Office Buildings
Requirements for new large office buildings would provide one space per 250 square feet for the first 20,000 square feet. For floor area exceeding 20,000 square feet, the requirement would be one space per 350 square feet.
The ordinance provides for the use of the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) shared parking analysis as a reference. Limited types of shared use make sense in Winter Park, such as retail or office buildings with upstairs residential. In a few circumstances, a restaurant might share parking with a nearby institution such as a school or church.
5.Distance for Offsite Parking
The ordinance would change the distance permitted for offsite parking from 300 feet to 450 feet. As Briggs pointed out, that would be going from the length of one football field to one and a half football fields. P&Z Chair Ross Johnston suggested that if employees were required to use offsite parking, that would free up on-street parking for customers who want closer proximity to their destinations.
Johnston also pointed out the difficulty of regulating shared parking. How would the City determine if the people using the shared parking were actually entitled to it, or if they were opportunistic “parking poachers.”
6.Fee in Lieu of Parking
According to the Staff Report, instead of providing actual parking spaces, a developer could write a check to purchase or fund the required parking within a City-owned parking facility.
The City Staff Report stated: “Note that no such fee-in-lieu program can be established without a specific City Commission approved parking facility for which the funds collected are to [be] implemented for either surface or structured parking as to both location and cost and the ability to provide the same number of or more parking spaces otherwise needed to be provided on-site by the property owners electing to pay a fee-in-lieu.”
The Lawrence Center Quandary
So, if the parking must be City-owned, as stated above by the Planning Department, this raises the question: why would the City invest in additional parking decks above the proposed two-story, three-deck Rollins parking facility at the Lawrence Center – if the City is to have no ownership in or control over that facility?
On the other hand, does the City really want to get into the parking business?
“Parking is No Silver Bullet Number”
Although the draft ordinance was discussion-only, P&Z board members appeared squeamish at the prospect of recommending passage in the absence of a more comprehensive plan to deal with parking and transportation within the City. Owen Beitsch stated, “I don’t want to suggest that we don’t act, but I do want to suggest that we think about a package of solutions that constitutes a plan, not just an ordinance that says these are the ad hoc things we want to change.”
Ordinance is One Piece of a Much Larger Puzzle
Briggs responded that there are many aspects to the downtown parking puzzle – such as employee parking, valet parking, parking enforcement, how to create new parking – and the ordinance addresses only the Zoning Code. And that is the purview of P&Z – the zoning code.
Johnston responded to Briggs, “What you’re hearing is that we’re trying to get an ordinance in isolation that has other contingencies attached to it, and we’re not comfortable isolating that part of it. . . . We need to see what the net result of our actions is.”
In other words, will the ordinance alleviate a real or perceived parking deficit? If so, how can we tell?
Where Will the Ordinance Go Next?
Briggs explained that the next step was a similar non-action discussion of the ordinance with the Commission on August 27. The P&Z Board will meet the following day, August 28, for their regular work session, and Briggs will update them about the discussion at the Commission meeting. If the ordinance is still moving forward, there will be a public hearing before P&Z on September 11. P&Z will be asked to vote at that meeting.
If the ordinance passes, it will go back to the Commission September 24 – the same meeting at which the Commission will take up the Lawrence Center expansion. While it is appropriate for discussion of the two matters to coincide, citizens are advised to pack a lunch, as this could be a lengthy discussion.
Who ever said parking was boring?
Will a reduction in required parking for new projects favor residents and existing merchants?
Or will it favor developers?
The inability to provide sufficient parking has been the bane of many a developer going before
P & Z and the commission. Planning staff to the rescue.
The solution is to re-zone all Winter Park commercial property to single family residential. The existing commercial buildings would be grandfathered in and should be allowed to be used for any lawful purpose. But if they are to be re-developed, or re-modeled, they must be converted to single family residential (i.e. NOT apartments or condos or commercial). That would, over time, completely solve the traffic problem in Winter Park too, because the only people driving in and out of town would be residents and the mail man.
The fact that this parking proposal comes at the same exact time as the Orange Avenue makeover proposal is highly suspicious. They want our minds so confused with multiple proposals that by the time they railroad through their Orange Avenue hijinks, we will think they are doing us a favor.
We are at a time in our economy and environmental control that smaller cars must be encouraged. If sections of Park and Orange Avenue parking was marked off for cars the size of “ForTwo” and “Smart Cars”, the number of cars accommodated would double. Tis coming. Do it now and get ahead of the curve.
I’ll let you ride in the sardine sized death box and remain in my normal sized car. Thanks.
Nothing going on here. Just a report on how to handle the influx of traffic into a highly desirable downtown.
Derek Tooley is the man in charge of parking in Winter Park. This young man is an incredible ambassador for our city. BUT he is pulled from so many ways he can not enforce the parking in downtown Winter Park. They have him doing school crossings almost every day.
I watched a car parked facing the wrong way in front of BOA ALL DAY! I don’t blame Derek I blame the City of Winter Park! Too many employees parking on Park Avenue for extended periods of time. If anyone would care to discuss this please contact me at John Craig. Thank youn
Ask the City if you can put 50% off flyers for your store on every Parker’s windshield if they park in the right direction and not longer than the parking sign says.
You are not the only Park Ave merchant who says he’d like to have input on
the parking situation. Did the city or the Kimley Horn reps consult with you
at all ?
Thank you for this background on Derek Tooley. It’s incredible they have him working school crossings as well as trying to deal with the difficult situation of parking in WP.
What is wrong with city govt?
This mismanagement explains why so many lifelong WP residents now avoid and are unable to enjoy and patronize Park Avenue shops, as we did in the past.
Parking on the West Side, at least during the day, is much easier.
But it is too hot and stormy to walk from the West Side to Park Avenue.
The new library is not going to draw, many, if any visitors on foot, or by bicycle. It is not pedestrian and bicycle friendly like the old library which is close to residential neighborhoods.
Call me lazy…..but if parking becomes any more tedious on Park Ave ….I will FOR SURE be dining and shopping somewhere that I am not all stressed (when I am supposed to be doing something fun and enjoyable)!!
Recently friends and I met for lunch off Park Avenue. We used to frequent the Avenue, but as tourism increased dramatically, the explosion of downtown condos, and nearby apartments, the Avenue is no longer a friendly and accessible place for residents.
It was surprising and telling the scores of residents in this restaurant not well known and away from downtown WP.
Park Avenue no longer belongs to the people who live here, but is driven by the development and tourism industry.
Yes, Park Avenue used to be like a New England town commons, a beautiful and gracious community venue for town residents.
We knew restaurant owners and always saw neighbors and friends when we dined out.
Now it and WP feels more like I-Drive, with people dressed in flip-flops and baggy t-shirts like they do at I-Drive – not exactly in stylish and becoming resort wear.
The West Side, because of what is left of the traditional African American community, still feels like a community, but feels like it’s still being invaded and colonized.
WP is becoming increasingly commodified and “branded” by a few developers, and no longer belongs to the residents, including descendants of those who envisioned and created this beautiful resort town.
The live peacocks still remain near Genius Drive, and are in dire need of soft speed bumps and “Drive Safely – Peacock Preserve Zone” signs, to avoid more peacocks being killed by those who have no respect or appreciation for what WP used to be.
“Yes, Park Avenue used to be like a small New
England town common- a beautiful gracious
community for town residents.” It is this “FEEL”
that we are losing in the name of progress. Progress
is not measured in gentrification of any neighborhood
It is not measured by higher and bigger buildings.
Progress is keeping the “feel” of our charming
town , where neighbors know and respect neighbors, where residents want to dine on Park Avenue because they will see friends, where the canopy is preserved, where those who sit on the
dais also “feel” what the residents want. Hopefully we can restore this “feel”.
We can restore the feel of Winter Park. But the residents will have to do the work.
1) Yard Signs
3) Poll residents AFTER elections to verify official election results.
Remember the words of Ronald Reagan – “Trust, but verify.”
Winter Park is losing its charm to the carpet baggers, because Winter Park residents believe voting and attending government meetings to which they are invited is enough.
The trouble in Winter Park always follows the tax increases. They have more money than they know what to do with.
Too many department heads. Aside from Police Chief and Fire Chief, Randy should assume all the other duties of the managers who report to him. In a small town like Winter Park why do we need BOTH a City Manager and a Finance Manager and an Economic Development Manager and a Communications Manager and a Parks Manager and a Public Works Manager, and Fill in the Blank of the other managers?
Somebody should add up all the manager salaries and benefits who report to Randy. It’s gotta be millions and millions of dollars. He’s been City Manager for a long time. He should know these departments like the back of his hand. What’s the deal? Why all the managers? And don’t say “level of service.” It’s no service to residents to have their tax bill increased EVERY YEAR and their quality of life deteriorating by the day.
The more managers, the more quality of life decreases in Winter Park. Fact.
Yes, Winter Park’s best days are behind it.
But look on the bright side.
With the able assistance of our City Commission, you can count on years of enjoying the radio entertainment inside of your automobile more than you ever imagined possible!
Your electric bill will drop, when large McMansions are built, surrounding your home, and completely blocking out the sun!
You will easily do your New Years resolution to get more exercise, when they build the new library with no place for you to park, way on the other side of town (don’t forget to take a water bottle with you on your hike)!
See how LUCKY you are to live in Winter Park?
It seems to me that if the public parking lot located behind the train station were to be converted to a three-story, city owned parking building, similar in appearance to the Rollins garage behind SunTrust/Starbucks, would solve a multitude of parking problems for downtown WP.
And do not make the same mistake that was made in the parking building behind Panera’s by allowing “reserved” spaces on the first few floors causing drivers to suffer a dizzying ascension to the public spaces.i personally will never again attempt going up there only to find all the spaces occupied.
A good place for a parking garage would be City Hall.
If they would replace City Hall with a parking garage, not only would it increase the number of parking spaces, it would also solve virtually every other problem in City of Winter Park as well.
Thanks for the much-need laugh.
I certainly agree with WP Anon about the Park Place parking garage behind Panera’s. I thought that the fourth and fifth floors were exclusively for public parking. Apparently, according to the City website, those floors are also used by merchant employees who have parking tags. No wonder I often cannot find a spot on either floor. The first floor public parking seems to be occupied by patrons of Panera’s who sit there for hours working on their computers. And why does one ladies apparel store have a reserved spot on the first floor? I love Shooz but have given up find a parking spot and now order my shoes online. My tax dollars paid for a portion of that garage and it is seldom available for the residents.
According to this weeks Observer, the Chamber of Commerce is encouraging more British tourists to visit Winter Park. Why? To increase congestion and make it harder for the residents to shop and dine on Park Avenue?
Interesting article, “Paradise Lost: How Tourists Are Destroying the Places They Love,”at Der Spiegel, published on Aug. 21, 2018, that sounds like the plan set forth in articles about boosting tourism to WP:
“…predatory nature of modern-day tourism — a style of travel that is devouring all the beautiful places which drives it…
“Porto still hasn’t become as overrun as places like Barcelona or Amsterdam, cities where locals have begun defending themselves against the hordes of tourists who seem to be taking over. But a divide has developed in Porto — between the tourist city and the city for locals…
“For years, it’s been tourists rather than local residents who have been shaping the image of some of Europe’s most beautiful and unique cities. They are being transformed into museums and theme parks and are developing special zones for tourists where locals may work, but certainly don’t live. Tourists sit in traditional restaurants devoid of locals as they watch other tourists. They are no longer places where people come together, but where divides seem to deepen. At times, it really does feel like a tourist invasion. They come, they stay briefly and then they are gone again, but they act as though they own the cities they visit…
“‘Tourism is a phenomenon that creates many private profits but also many socialized losses,’ says Christian Laesser, a tourism professor at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.
“Often, the profits benefit very few — the landlords and hotel owners primarily, but also, to a much lesser extent, the often poorly paid employees working in the travel sector. The rest are stuck with the noise and the mess… and the feeling of being a stranger in their own country, like beng an extra in some Disney World for tourists.
“In many places, that feeling has begun manifesting itself in expressions of open hostility. Activists spray paint “tourists go home” on the walls in many places overflowing with tourists…
“Often, the profits benefit very few — the landlords and hotel owners primarily, but also, to a much lesser extent, the often poorly paid employees working in the travel sector. The rest are stuck with the noise and the mess, the high rents and the feeling of being a stranger in their own country, like being an extra in some Disney World for tourists.
“In many places, that feeling has begun manifesting itself in expressions of open hostility. Activists spray paint “tourists go home” on the walls in many places overflowing with tourists…”
They finally coughed it up and confessed what their plans are..
Thank you and to Beth Hall and others for sharing this info.
Nonsubscribers are able to see the thumbnails – which appear to be renderings of the bland high-rises – at the iink.
It is discouraging to realize that the mayor, despite feedback from many residents and ongoing opposition, is continuing his stealth, radical plan to transform the beautiful, historic, unique city of Winter Park into a bland, generic, overcrowded subdivision.
Unfortunately, if you do not subscribe to Orlando Business Journal you will not be able to see the “slide
show” of the proposed renderings for the corridor. If citizens were able to SEE what is actually
being proposed there would be considerable resistance, since there is nothing in
the city limits outside of Ravaudage that comes close to this sort of mass, height, and
scale. In other words, people would freak out. In a big way.
Transparency is called for as the Mayor looks to implement these plans. Quote from Leary: “The current land use and zoning categories may not be sufficient to promote the best development in Winter Park.”
Translation: The current land use code won’t permit anything NEAR this big/ dense/ massive/ tall.
Those multi-story buildings in the slide show looked pretty tall, but the tops were cut off in the slide show pics. Just how tall are those apartment buildings?
These pictures are being shown to other groups outside of Winter Park.
Isn’t it time those of us inside Winter Park got to see the show?
Remember Leary told us he “only has time for the dreamers.” If you don’t like this he wants you
to shut up and get out of the way.
Normally, when proposed development pictures don’t show you the tops of the buildings, they have something very, very tall in mind. Here’s an example of a residential tower with commercial on the first floor in Orlando.
I was able to click on one of the thumbnail pictures below the main picture and page through the other pictures without a subscription. The only thing I couldn’t see without a subscription was the article. I think the library has print copy of Orlando Business Journal.
The funny thing is in one of the pictures they propose naming the development “GARDEN DISTRICT.” I guess they think that will fool us all better than if they name it “Concrete District” or “High Rise Apartment District” or ‘”Density District.”
Don’t worry though. If it’s anything like the new library, the final version will be much, MUCH worse than the initial “renderings.” Remember the picture of the nice normal looking library and events center they showed the residents before the election? Then they sprung the freak show version on us later which they ultimately approved – by a unanimous vote I may add.