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.