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Denver City Council makes slow progress to fix developer parking loophole

DENVER -- The city of Denver took another step toward fixing parking problems caused by new developments that don’t provide off-street parking.

The loophole has been around for about a decade, but now developers are taking full advantage of it.

Worried neighbors are demanding the council take action.

Already, council members have put a moratorium in place to stop any additional developers from using what’s called a small-lot parking exemption.

That means developers don’t have to provide any off-street parking on lots of 6,250 square feet or less.

Without that extra parking, it makes parking for existing residents even more difficult, as they compete for a limited resource.

At the five-story Humboldt Micro Apartments, 108 studio apartments will go up with just 45 off-premise parking spots to accommodate the new residents.

Some neighbors suspect that parking will be paid. A group that opposes the exemption says there are 11 similar projects in the works throughout Denver.

The council is trying to tighten up the use of the exemption. It might require developers to provide parking for units above the first or third floors of new projects.

The council is also weighing a proposal to create a transportation demand management program that directly impacts developers.

“Where a project receives parking reductions, they must provide alternatives. They must provide multiple modes of transportation, whether it’s Car2Go, bike sharing or transit passes, things like that,” councilman Albus Brooks said.

“Denver is always going to have cars -- you can live without a car -- but to enjoy all the amenities of Colorado, you are going to have a car, most people do,” resident Bill Vanderlan said.

Vanderlan is also happy to hear developers might have to inform neighbors of their projects. He said the Humboldt project came out of the blue, without any resident input.

The council wants to hear from Denver residents on this issue. It’ll hold a public hearing April 17.

The moratorium on the small-lot parking exemption expires May 26. The council hopes to have some good neighborhood safeguards in place by then