Tourist Town Debates Parking Requirements


Tourist Town Debates Parking Requirements

In Red River, New Mexico, town leaders and local investors are having an age old debate: how much parking is enough parking? According to, developers have proposed a mixed use development that would provide affordable housing for the city’s working class, as well as retail sites and vacation rentals. This plan was rejected by the town council for its inadequate parking provisions.

“Parking is a premium here,” Mayor Linda Calhoun noted. She added variances allowing less parking than is required by town ordinance would lead to long-term problems for the town, which could eventually hurt the town’s growth and prosperity.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Councilor Ben Richey said. “This will come back to bite the town, big time!”

The developers’ rebuttal is that the added parking requirements make their proposal unprofitable. Losing retail and rental property to no-return parking spots means investors, who’ve paid a high price for the property, will not see sufficient returns. In addition, removing affordable housing options affects the town’s ability to support tourism.

“I don’t have any ill will toward anyone. There was a just such a focus on parking. The good parts of the proposal went away with the parking problem. I lived in Aspen, where employees had to drive an hour and a half to work. I think it takes away the charm of the city when you don’t have that local mix,” said developer Chad Mantz.

The big question is, what creates a thriving city? What supports a profitable tourism industry? Parking is a must, but so is retail space, lodging and affordable housing. The discussion in Red River is complicated, but in the end, the development was denied a variance on parking requirements and developers headed back to the drawing board. The need for parking won out, but nobody answered the question.

Calhoun noted, “Perhaps what we need to do is schedule another meeting to discuss the housing issue.”

Read the article here.

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John Van Horn

One Response

  1. “…..but nobody answered the question.” That’s hitting the proverbial nail on the head. And that is the major issue with almost all of these debates taking place over projects around the country.

    The developers are focused almost exclusively on the $ aspect, and the governing body is zeroed in on the “code”. Nobody is bothering to take the time to dig in to the actual issues and put together a “plan” to address the real parking needs for the proposed development and the impact on the existing businesses, housing and parking supply.

    The developers need to explain “why” the parking supply they are proposing is adeqaute, and in doing so they ought to make the whole $ issue a small side note in the discussion, not the focal point.

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