As state and national trends show cities pursuing more walkable downtowns, Friendswood officials are looking at parking policies and how they affect the community’s walkability—yet city officials are divided on what action to take.

What you need to know

On April 1, Friendswood’s parking ad hoc subcommittee presented Friendswood City Council with an analysis they performed of Friendswood’s downtown areas as well as parking regulations to evaluate what options are available and how options could be improved to make the community more walkable.

Subcommittee findings showed in Friendswood’s downtown areas, small lots were difficult to develop. Meanwhile, in other parts of the city, large lots built in the 1970s and 1980s to service grocery stores that have closed remain largely unused, said Marcus Rives, subcommittee chair.

“The local trends that seem to be going really hot and heavy right now are walkable downtowns, which we’ve been addressing,” Rives said.

To achieve this goal, subcommittee recommended:
  • Allowing businesses to reduce available parking space by 15% in addition to the existing 5% reduction allowed, bringing the total reduction allowed to 20%
  • Having the parking ad hoc subcommittee increase transparency of existing alternative parking solutions, such as shared parking
  • Having Friendswood City Council review parking regulations every two years
In their own words

City Council member Joe Matranga said he felt the city’s regulations were satisfactory and worried that reducing parking spaces could lead to second-degree consequences, such as people parking on the street in front of people’s homes.

“We have so many things that staff works on,” Matranga said. “I just don’t think this is one that’s broken that needs fixing.”

Other City Council members voiced concern that the city was not fully using vacant parking lot space and the issue deserved more critical focus from city planners.

“Personally I would like to see [planning and zoning] delve into this,” Friendswood City Council member Sally Branson said. “I hear you, Joe, but I do think we’ve run into some roadblocks, especially in the downtown area, and I wish we could create some flexibility.”

While City Council did not vote to approve or reject any of city staff’s recommendations, Mayor Mike Foreman asked the city’s planning and zoning commission to look closer at the effects of increasing the city’s 5% parking space reduction allowance to 20%.

One more thing

In August, Branson recommended forming the parking ad hoc subcommittee to review Friendswood’s parking regulations and recommend changes.

Editor's note: This story was updated to note that the parking ad hoc subcommittee presented the parking analysis and will review.