Chandler first in U.S. to consider parking regs for self-driving vehicles

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A Waymo self-driving car, one of the many seen on the streets of Tempe/Chandler

By permitting real-time, on-the-road testing of a promising 21st Century technology, Chandler became a pioneer among cities helping to move autonomous vehicles toward day-to-day reality.

Now those same officials have taken yet another step to meet what appears to be an inevitable part of our driving future.

During an April City Council meeting, city planning staff introduced an ordinance to amend parking and loading regulations in Chandler’s zoning code. The proposed amendments would prepare the city for an expected increase in autonomous-vehicle and ride-share usage, according to city spokeswoman Stephanie Romero.

Adoption of the proposed changes would give Chandler the distinction of becoming the first city in America to amend its zoning code specifically based on the increase of ridesharing and the use of autonomous vehicles.

Knowledgeable sources in the planning sector have suggested that, with the change in transportation use, parking demand will be reduced and the demand for drop-off and pick-up areas will increase.

However, Romero said, no one has thus far been able to predict what that exact demand could be. As a result, Chandler’s proposed zoning amendments would allow enough flexibility to adjust parking ratios as transportation behavior evolves.

“These zoning code amendments have many positive implications, from increasing the amount of property available for revenue generating activity, demonstrating to the AV industry that Chandler is ‘open for business’ and further reinforcing Chandler’s brand recognition as the innovation and technology hub of the Southwest,” said Mayor Jay Tibshraeny.

The proposed amendments would allow parking reductions based on demand and encourage the creation of passenger loading zones.

The first such proposal would add the ability to reduce parking when studies found that a reduction in demand is directly due to an increase in autonomous vehicles and ridesharing. Under this provision, the city’s zoning administrator would have the ability to reduce up to 40 percent of parking.

A second change would allow for a 10 percent parking reduction for each loading zone space for varying uses, up to a maximum of 40 percent:

• Commercial: One loading zone space per 50,000 square feet;

• General Office: One loading zone space per 100,000 SF;

• Industrial: One loading zone space per 200,000 SF;

• Institutional and Medical: One loading zone space per 50,000 SF; and

• Multi-Family: One loading zone space per 150 units.

Loading zone spaces that exceed these ratios would not be eligible for the 10 percent parking reduction. Larger reductions (up to a maximum of 40 percent) may be requested through a parking demand study.

However, if the reductions were to cause a parking problem, the city’s zoning administrator would have discretion to deny the request. The ordinance also proposes standards for passenger loading zones:

• Be approximately 50 feet from the primary entrance; greater distance will be allowed when shared by multiple businesses;

• Be kept separate from fire lanes;

• Comply with the minimum dimensions in standard detail;

• Provide pedestrian amenities, such as shade and benches; and

• Comply with accessibility requirements from Chandler’s Building Code. The proposed amendments will be voted on by the City Council on May 10. If approved, the ordinance will take effect June 9.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. They are a non-starter, regardless of the millions or even billions of miles of driving knowledge you put in them, they cannot adapt to something they have not seen before. Further, there are thousands of new components now added to one of the most hostile operation environments that we have…all with failure rates that are much less than the lifespan of a normal vehicle. So in addition to be unpredictable, these will always be much more expensive than the median income family can afford. IMO, Chandler should remove these from our streets…not increase their usage. I am hoping that a change in leadership at City Hall will alleviate this menace from our streets.

  2. I am curious as to why no one in the State or City governments, nor the local media have even mentioned the incident reports filed by the Autonomous Vehicle manufacturers in California. As reported in the San Jose Mercury News, the reports are very telling of these vehicles losing track of where they are due to GPS failures, among other things.

    Could it be that the local powers-that-be want to accept this technology, regardless of the obvious lack of safety?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

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