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A ban on new surface parking lots downtown gets initial approval

Jonathan Rivera

The Cincinnati Planning Commission voted Friday to recommend a ban on new surface parking lots Downtown. The commission will need to vote again before the measure is handed off to City Council for a final decision.

Council Member Mark Jeffreys introduced the idea over a year ago.

"I'm honored to be here today to advance this vision and the choice to say no to more soulless concrete parking lots in the middle of our city that suck out the life, and yes to a more vibrant, thriving downtown Cincinnati," Jeffreys said. "I'm certain that 100 years from now our grandchildren will be glad we did."

The new rules would apply to the downtown development zoning district, which includes parts of Over-the-Rhine, Mount Adams, East End, West End, Pendleton and Mount Auburn.

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The Department of Planning and Engagement spent the past year studying the issue, looking at how much parking is needed and available already, and the negative effects of surface parking lots. The report says surface lots contribute to urban heat islands and increase stormwater runoff into the combined sewer system.

New surface lots are already prohibited in Subdistrict W (pictured below) which makes up the downtown business district.

A map of surface parking lots downtown
City of Cincinnati
A map of surface parking lots downtown

If approved, new permanent surface lots would be prohibited in the rest of the zone. A developer could still build a temporary lot in two subdistricts (Y and Z, pictured above), primarily near the stadiums and the casino. New lots in those areas would have to follow stricter guidelines like using heat reflective material or permeable pavers instead of traditional asphalt or concrete, and observe rules related to setbacks, electric vehicle charging, and planting trees. Those lots could only operate for five years, with a possible two-year extension.

The city law department will prepare an ordinance version of the plan. The Planning Commission is expected to vote again sometime in January. If approved then, it will be forwarded to City Council.

RELATED: Cincinnati may ban future surface parking lots Downtown

The commission also voted Friday to give preliminary approval to a new parking lot on the site of the former Greyhound Station, a lot within the district under consideration for a ban.

The Department of Planning and Engagement recommended approving the project only with the stricter requirements proposed for temporary parking lots outlined in the new policy.

The policy hasn’t been approved yet. The commission voted 6-1 to approve the parking lot without the extra regulations.

You can learn more about both projects in the packet for the Dec. 1 Planning Commission meeting, available on the city website here.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.