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Indianapolis Parking Minimums Force Walmart to Ask for Less Parking

11:08 AM EDT on March 20, 2013

How do you know your zoning requirements are bad? A good sign is that Walmart has to ask your city for less parking.

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Believe it or not, that is the case in Indianapolis, reports Joe Smoker at Urban Indy. Joe was examining a site plan for a new Walmart in the region. He was shocked to learn that city parking requirements forced the retailer to request a variance for a less-titanic field of impermeable pavement:

With only the site plan to run from, you can rest assured that the store will be exactly what you pictured from most aspects. Lots of concrete block or stucco painted in the contemporary color choice of the decade and plenty of signage to go along with it. In addition to this array of investment, you will undoubtedly find the proverbial “sea” of parking ... wait! What is the Variance for? A reduction in what?!? PARKING!

Really? Wal-Mart is requesting a reduction of required parking? This is the same business that surrounds itself with asphalt as a matter of pride and then forces out-lots to agree to parking provisions substantially beyond a local municipalities' regulations just in case they ever thought about shared parking. Wal-Wart is requesting permission to provide 165 parking spaces where 275 spaces would be required. That’s a reduction of 40%.

To be clear, parking is one aspect of an urbanist’s disdain for Wal-Mart. This location is by no means urban and certainly will be centered around the automobile as all other uses in the area are. How can parking numbers be so far off? Has the city really been, for all practical purposes, double parking new developments? What more evidence do you need than Wal-Mart requesting less parking?

Fortunately, Indianapolis is in the midst of revising its zoning code. It would be hard not to improve upon this kind of result.

Elsewhere on the Network today: City Block shares a new report that says parking requirements in Los Angeles present a real barrier to affordable housing. Half-Mile Circles explains what industries and classes of workers are best-served, and worst-served, by traditional transit systems. And Transport Providence proposes that traffic fines be doubled on bike routes.

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