New Braunfels City Council opted to move forward on exploring proposed amendments to the city's parking ordinance that aim to enhance pedestrian-friendly development while accommodating commercial parking needs at a May 20 special council meeting. Specifically, council is looking into increasing the distance away from a business that shares off-site parking with a neighboring business.

The details

The standard allows off-site parking to be no further than 800 feet from the subject property, said Christopher J. Looney, director of the planning and development services department.

City staff suggested an increase in the allowed walkable distance between a business and off-site parking identified for that business to reach required parking minimums. Looney said the proposal would give businesses more autonomy in determining their parking needs, suggesting an increase in the allowed walkable distance up to a quarter-mile, or 1,320 feet.

Sorting out details

The proposed change seeks to support commercial developments in meeting parking requirements while promoting pedestrian-oriented development, Looney said.

The measurement of separation distance was recommended to be taken "as the crow flies," Looney said, which means measuring the distance between off-site parking and the subject property in a straight line, rather than along potential pedestrian routes.

The proposed amendments align with goals outlined in the city’s comprehensive plan—Envision New Braunfels—and the city's strategic plan, particularly those related to enhanced connectivity and community well-being, Looney said.

Looney recommends approval of the proposed amendments, with further research to provide a data-driven recommendation.

More details

Council members brought some concerns to the proposal, including:
  • Concerns about impervious cover and drainage issues resulting from parking regulations
  • Questions about the practical implementation and administration of parking agreements between commercial entities
  • Consideration of potential conflicts between parking regulations and other city initiatives, such as bike lanes
  • Discussion about the effectiveness of existing shared parking agreements and potential challenges when properties change ownership
What’s next

The amendments would undergo a public hearing and recommendation by the planning commission before a first reading by City Council at a later date.