The Long Awaited Recommended Decatur Parking Ordinance Updates

Ok.  Let’s take the Zoning Ordinance Update Task Force’s recommendations one-by-one.  Hopefully we’ll get through them all by the time of the city commission meeting next week!

First up, a long-time favorite topic among DMers – parking!  Decatur’s parking ordinance has long been criticized as outdated and many simply would point to the numerous parking exemptions the Zoning Board of Appeals has had to make the past few years as proof.

Proponents on either side of various parking battles continued to state that ultimately updated parking standards were necessary.   For years the city asked for patience, as the 2010 Strategic Plan was created followed by the Zoning Task Force to tackle the issue and provide the recommendations.  Now, they’re finally here.  I give you the proposed updates to Decatur’s parking standards.

Here’s my attempt at a summary of the changes.  Let me know what I’ve missed by scouring the detailed docs on the city’s website.

Grandfatherd Parking

  • Currently allowed – New uses and all expansion of existing buildings are required to meet the current parking regulations.
  • Recommendation – Allow uses of a building to change or an expansion up to 10% without being required to meet current parking regulations.

Mins and Maxs

  • Currently allowed – Retail – 1 space per 200 square feet, Restaurant – 1 space per 100 square feet, Office – 1 space per 400 suqare feet, Bowling Alleys – 5 spaces per alley, fraternity and sorority houses – 1 space per bed, and so on…
  • Recommendation – 1 minimum requirement (1 parking space per 500 square feet) and 1 maximum requirement (1 parking space per 200 square feet) for ALL commercial uses.  1 minimum (1 parking space) and 1 maximum (2 parking spaces) per dwelling unit.  Also, shared parking shall count towards required spaces.

Shared Parking

  • Currently allowed – 50% of parking can be “shared” within 300 feet.
  • Recommendation – 80% of parking can be shared within 1,320 feet and 50% can be shared for residential within 300 feet.  Off-site shared parking must have “complementary uses and operating hours” and must be zoned commercial or institutional.

7 thoughts on “The Long Awaited Recommended Decatur Parking Ordinance Updates”


  1. I feel the detailed zoning documents on the city’s website are too much for a “lay person” (like me) to read and get what big changes are being proposed. I do appreciate the comparison chart they did and I really appreciate your work. In other words, I do understand the extreme importance of this, but it is really difficult for the “not too involved” onlooker to grasp.

    1. Give it time. Mr. B. will explain it after determining it’s probably too complicated for the average resident and certainly too challenging for the few slow-thinking conservatives in Decatur.

      And he’ll put an asterisk in there for the smiley on the bottom. You know, kind of like saying “bless their little hearts.”

    1. Wow. Good pick-up. Does or did Agnes Scott have any? And where did the reference to fraternities come from?

      You know, we already have an adult prom in town. Maybe we need an adult rush week too! But no hazing!

  2. Offhand, reducing the amount the mandatory parking for commercial sites and expanding allowed sharing sounds good to me. If businesses decide that having lots of on-site parking is needed in order to attract customers, then they can provide it. If not, they don’t need to, and shouldn’t be required to. Mandating lots of parking just distorts the market.

    Of course, for this to work, then the city also shouldn’t provide tons on on-street parking for free or for nominal costs. There should be demand-driven pricing for on-street parking, depending on the time of day, which can be implemented pretty easily nowadays through smart parking meters. This is all basically from The High Cost of Free Parking, which makes a lot of sense to me.

  3. A gentle suggestion to the City: documents like these proposed ordinances would be even more useful to the public if they were posted as searchable PDF’s instead of image scans.

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