Austin city leaders are working to strike a balance between serving local businesses and the public.
The Office of the City Manager is carefully crafting an ordinance which would allow businesses to use the parking lots of nearby public parks for surplus parking.
The issue first raised its head when concerns were raised over parking at Casa De Luz, a South Austin vegan restaurant and spiritual center. According to city code, Austin restaurants are required to have a certain number of parking spots based on their size. Casa De Luz falls short with just two.
Parking for the South Austin restaurant often spills into the lot at nearby Weber Field where “No Parking” signs are often ignored.
Jesse Vargas with Austin’s Parks and Recreation admits businesses like Casa de Luz—located near South Lamar Boulevard and Riverside Drive—are quickly losing available parking as development in the area ramps up.
But parks officials say there are more than 3,000 businesses within 1,000 feet of city parks and they fear that a sweeping ordinance could overwhelm existing park facilities.
"The intent is to write a fair and reasonable ordinance that definitely keeps our park users front and center," Vargas said.
The city has a laundry list concerns that need to be addressed before making changes. Among them: increased liability, the added cost of lighting the lots and public scrutiny.
"That list represents a work in progress—things that we intend to take into consideration,” Jesse Vargas with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department said.
The Austin City Council will take up the matter of sharing of parking lots at city parks on March 31.