By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
New developments in Santa Rosa may be required to provide additional bicycle parking and showers for bicyclists under new zoning rules to be considered by the City Council on Tuesday night.
The changes are intended to make it easier for people to bike to work by increasing the amount of long-term parking that businesses must provide, especially in areas like downtown Santa Rosa.
The new rules have been in the works since 2007, when the city began drawing plans to direct development downtown in anticipation of the arrival of the SMART train.
Currently, the number of bike parking spaces at new developments is pegged to the number of vehicle parking spaces, usually 5 to 10 percent. But that wasn’t working in places like downtown, where no vehicle parking spaces are required. Instead, property owners pay into the city’s parking district.
“Basically, we don’t get new bicycle parking with new non-residential developments downtown,” said city planner Erin Morris.
And in places outside downtown, often the types of bike parking provided by businesses aren’t the right mix of spaces, Morris said.
“The current regulations provide a lot of short-term bike parking spaces that aren’t necessarily being used and don’t provide the more secure, long-term bicycle parking spaces desired by bike commuters,” Morris said.
So instead of just bike racks, future businesses or those that want to expand their buildings by more than 10 percent will have the added expense of providing long-term parking facilities. Such features could include an enclosed space for bikes or bike lockers.
For example, a 55,000-square-foot downtown building mixing office and retail currently doesn’t have to provide any bike parking. Under the new rules, it would need to provide one space for every 5,000 square feet. The makes 11 bike parking spaces, including a mixture of short- and long-term spaces.
In other cases, however, there are no changes to the number of bike parking spaces needed, and in other cases they go down, according to a staff report.
A 75,000-square-foot research and development facility currently would have to provide 25 short-term spaces for bikes, or 10 percent of the 250 vehicle spaces required. The new rules, however, require just 13 spaces, or one space per 6,000 square feet. However, the new rules require at least four of those spaces to be long-term.
The rules also address the requirements for showers. Retailers with under 100,000 square feet of space are currently exempt from providing showers and changing rooms for workers. But that number drops to 50,000 square feet under the new rules, which will result in more businesses falling under the requirement.
The proposed changes grew out of amendments to the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, which the council highlighted as a priority earlier this year. They passed the Planning Commission in August with little fanfare.
The city reached out to a few members of the real estate and development community and found little opposition to the rules, Morris said.