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Parking requirement change takes step forward

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Minimum parking requirements for most non-residential buildings in Columbia are now in the past. 

Columbia City Council on Tuesday gave second and final reading to an ordinance that will reduce the number of off-street parking spaces required for non-residential buildings.

Council initially approved the changes with a 5-1 vote in September and the ordinance’s second reading passed with a 6 to 1 vote Tuesday. 

The ordinance will amend city zoning regulations to eliminate minimum parking requirements for nonresidential structures of 7,500 square feet or less. It will also completely eliminate minimum parking requirements for five zoning districts: NAC (neighborhood activity center/corridor district), CAC (community activity center/corridor district), RAC (regional activity center/corridor district), MU-1 and MU-2 (mixed use).

Supporters of the ordinance say it will reduce cost burdens on new and existing businesses, reduce blights on the landscape in the shape of large parking lots in bad condition, and encourage more bicycling and walking within the city limits.

Reducing parking requirements is an increasing trend in cities around the country, said Carl Blackstone, president and CEO of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

“This is a good thing because we’re trying to get more commercial development in the business district and we’re trying to change the culture to get more people in the city to walk or ride their bikes, and this helps with both of those things,” Blackstone told SC Biz News. “Mandating parking is very cost-prohibitive for new businesses or businesses that want to expand, and this would really ease the burden for businesses in Columbia.”

This story updates incorrect information which was initially provided. 


Reach Christina Lee Knauss at 803-753-4327.

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