Less parking, more walking: Changes coming for new developments in Pierce County

Changes to parking standards for new development in Pierce County are in the works.

Proposed updates to the county’s Community Plans would reduce the number of parking stalls required for residential developers.

Currently, developers are required to provide a certain number of parking stalls depending on the type of use.

One bedroom/studio units require 1.5 parking spaces, two-bedroom units require 2 spaces and three or more bedroom units require 2.25 spaces.

Under the proposed changes, developers looking to build along major transportation corridors like Meridian Avenue South and Canyon Road East would be required to provide a standard 1.5 spaces for any size unit.

The idea is to reduce the amount of open space between developments, according to Pierce County planners.

“We’re really trying to get compact pedestrian-oriented centers,” said Pierce County planner Jessica Gwilt. “When you have areas like that, because businesses are closer together, people are able to share parking and there isn’t as much of a need.”

The changes only apply to new zoning areas in unincorporated areas of South Hill, Parkland, Spanaway, Midland, Frederickson and Mid-County near Canyon Road and state Route 512.

The new zoning areas, called “Centers and Corridors,” refer to concentrated areas of growth along major transportation corridors.

The new zones increase the variety of housing choices available to developers, including townhouses, condos and apartments.

More affordable housing choices near corridors means less of a need for cars, said Councilman Dave Morell.

“You can step out your front door of your condo complex and get the bus or walk down to Buffalo Wild Wings or go see a movie without having to jump in a car,” said Morell, whose district includes South Hill.

Pierce County created new Employment Corridor zoning for its Community Plans meant to entice new businesses and mitigate traffic.

“Part of alleviating traffic is getting more jobs here so people aren’t leaving or going too far,” Gwilt said.

Parking garages are allowed under the proposed changes, but must be built to “look like another type” of building, such as an office building, or must be covered with artwork or landscaping.

Parking regulations for commercial development and other uses would follow existing standards.

Pierce County Community Plans Open House

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 13

Where: Pierce County Skills Center, 16117 Canyon Road E.

More information: co.pierce.wa.us/4693/Community-Plan-Updates

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