Dripping Springs City Council tangles with parking solutions for historic downtown

A photo of a sign that reads "Visit Historic Dripping Springs."
In the historic district of Dripping Springs, parking is in high demand. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

In the historic district of Dripping Springs, parking is in high demand. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
Dripping Springs City Council met Jan. 14. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
At a Jan. 14 meeting, Dripping Springs City Council voted to permit a variance for a new Mercer Street business to install fewer parking spaces than typically required by city ordinance. The business in question, a bar, will be located at 330 Mercer St. in the Dripping Springs downtown historic district, where space to designate parking spots is limited. The building that will accommodate the new bar was formerly the Mercer Street Dance Hall and has now been partitioned to fit two separate businesses—the bar and Revel Wilde, a retail shop.

Per city ordinance, bars and restaurants are required to have one designated parking spot for every 100 square feet of the business. That rule extends to other businesses in the same building, although separate retail businesses usually only require one parking spot per 250 square feet. Due to space constraints, the business ownership requested a reduction from the 96 spaces that normally would be required for the entire building to 67.

Mayor Pro Tem Bill Foulds voiced concern that the variance foreshadowed a series of requests to come as Dripping Springs’ downtown is revitalized, he and requested that city staff and council consider permanent solutions for downtown parking in months to come.

“We need to start being proactive and taking care of this stuff and quit kicking the can [down the road],” Foulds said,

Purcell said the difficulties with downtown parking came down to anachronism because downtown had not been built with cars in mind.

“We’re trying to apply today’s parking rules to an area that never had contemplated that there would be parking rules of any kind,” Purcell said of the historic district, pointing out that originally visitors only had horses to contend with. “We have to come up with a solution, and until we do, we’re going to have to make exceptions so that people can open businesses downtown.”

Downtown parking has already been named a priority project of the downtown historic district’s tax increment reinvestment zone, which will support a number of revitalization efforts in the coming decades. However, the city has not yet announced any firm plans for the project.

Council ultimately unanimously approved the requested variance but not before an initial failed vote, with Council Members Taline Manassian and Bill Foulds voting no before Foulds made a motion to reconsider the item to allow for further discussion. With Council Member John Kroll absent, all five present members of the Dripping Springs Board of Adjustment—which includes council and Mayor Todd Purcell—had to vote yes in order for the measure to pass because a supermajority is required on board items.
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Southwest Austin edition. She graduated from Presbyterian College with a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing in 2017. Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio in Columbia, South Carolina before joining Community Impact in Austin.


On a nearly empty South Congress Avenue, a resident plays guitar March 25. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Projections showing major Austin metro job losses also predict significant re-employment by end of 2020

The president of the economic strategist firm said, unlike during the 2009 financial crash, there are no systemic issues in the economy.

(Courtesy Lighter Loads ATX)
In the midst of coronavirus pandemic, one Northwest Austin organization continues to provide hundreds of showers for city’s homeless

Local nonprofit Lighter Loads ATX continues to serve the homeless population despite the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

A photo of two hands typing on a laptop
Dripping Springs ISD opts for pass or incomplete grading system for semester

In order to account for varying at-home resources, the district will issue pass-fail grades through the current grading period.

Austin and Travis County's orders went into place March 25 and require residents to stay home for everything but essential travel. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Unprecedented local relief fund will send millions of tax dollars directly to vulnerable Austinites impacted by the coronavirus

City Council directed half the funds to be sent to organizations that can provide direct financial assistance to Austin's most vulnerable residents.

Austin City Hall (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)
Austin will appeal court ruling that halted the city’s land development code rewrite

The city's attorney said an appeal could take up to 12 months.

Laura Huffman has been named the new president and CEO of the Austin Chamber of Commerce. (Courtesy Austin Chamber of Commerce)
Laura Huffman named as new president and CEO of Austin Chamber of Commerce

Huffman previously worked as a regional director for Texas at the Nature Conservancy, an environmental nonprofit, and prior to that, she served as assistant city manager in Austin.

Abbott's order closes all state parks and historical sites effective 5 p.m. April 7. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
ROUNDUP: Parks closures for the Austin area

See the latest news about Austin-area parks closures in this Community Impact Newspaper roundup.

The Texas Workforce Commission's phone and online systems have been overwhelmed as measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus continue to have a crippling effect on the economy. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
More Texans have filed for unemployment in past three weeks than in all of 2019

For the second week in a row, more than 6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, according to federal data.

A photo of a finger-prick test being administered
Victory Medical now offers 10-minute coronavirus tests

The new finger-prick test gives results in a few minutes.

(Designed by Mel Stefka/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin-area health care centers receive more than $7 million from CARES Act

Three Austin-area nonprofit health care centers have been awarded federal grants totaling more than $7 million for coronavirus relief.

A photo of Walnut Springs Elementary School
Dripping Springs ISD extends registration period for kindergarten and pre-K students

First-time students now have until May 1 to be registered for kindergarten and pre-K.

At an April 8 press conference, Dr. Mark Escott, the Austin Public Health interim health authority, said emergency backup medical facilities will open soon in case local hospitals are not able to provide enough space for coronavirus patients. (Courtesy ATXN)
Austin, Travis County officials planning for up to 1.7 million coronavirus cases, 9,000 deaths in metro

Emergency backup medical facilities will open in case local hospitals are not able to provide enough space for patients who contract the coronavirus.