SLC Approves Parking Lot Ban in Commercial District

(KCPW News)  The Salt Lake City Council has unanimously approved a ban on the demolition of buildings in the city’s Central Business District in favor of surface parking lots.  The ban covers the area from North Temple to 700 South and from 200 East to 200 West.  Jason Mathis, Executive Director of the Downtown Alliance says while surface parking lots are not their preference, the council should have allowed some wiggle room.

“There should be some flexibility for people to be able to use surface lots in a transitional way as they are putting together parcels for a larger development,” says Mathis.  “In a lot of cases the land owner has an abandoned building or a vacant lot; a surface parking lot would be preferable to either of those options.”

Mathis adds the council should discuss ways to make it easier and more lucrative to develop downtown instead of passing policy that limits the flexibility of land owners.

Councilman Stan Penfold, who sponsored the ordinance, says the idea came after he discovered a loophole that could allow for the demolition of a building and construction of a surface lot that goes all the way to a sidewalk.  He says concerns like those of the Downtown Alliance are currently being discussed by the city’s planning department as they put together a new master plan for the city.

“Even under our existing code we don’t have a really good way to help with the transition of property.  So if someone is accumulating property for a major development, there’s not a good way for them to do temporary uses.  That is not necessarily related to this parking lot proposal, I think that’s consistent through our existing zone,” says Penfold.

Penfold expects a new master plan to come before the city council in October of next year.  The ordinance passed Tuesday also bans parking structures and surface lots anywhere on Main Street, and on block corners.  However it allows for new surface lots behind buildings and 75 feet from sidewalks.