Apr 16 2016

Are Too Many Cars Parked on Piedmont Streets?

Is on-street parking a problem in your neighborhood?

  • Should parking space sizes be reduced?
  • Should lot sizes and street frontage requirements be reduced?
  • Are Piedmont cars getting smaller?
  • Do Piedmonters want smaller garages?

On April 11, 2016, the Planning Commission undertook a “Public Hearing” for consideration of changes to Chapter 17, Piedmont’s Code requirements for construction and zoning. The Planning Commission is charged with recommending Chapter 17  and Design Review regulation changes to the City Council.

Staff reports here and here.

Reduction of Parking Space Dimensions –

Working from the April 11, 2016 staff report (here), the first item considered by the Commission was reduction of parking space size requirements. Parking space dimension requirement is currently set at 9 feet by 20 feet for garages and parking configurations with an exception. After considerable discussion, the Commissioners split their votes.   Whereas Commissioners Behrens, Ode, and Ramsey voted to reduce parking space size, Commissioners Tom Zhang and Tony Theophilos wanted to retain the current size requirements of 9′ X 20′.

David Hobstetter, former Piedmont Planning Commissioner and local architect, spoke extensively, referencing his involvement with the development of the Shell Station site at Wildwood and Grand Avenues. At an unrecorded joint meeting of the Planning Commission and the City Council, proposals were presented.  Hobstetter urged reducing parking space size, explaining that fulfilling parking space requirements had been a problem for the Shell Station development project.  He emphasized the need to encourage smaller cars for the environment and noted some trends to reduce parking space sizes.

The April 11, 2016 Planning staff report states:

Parking Requirements: The parking requirements of the current Zoning Code, Section 17.16, requires that a conforming parking space be covered, non-tandem, and at least 9 feet wide by 20 feet deep. A compact parking spot must be 7.5 feet wide by 16 feet deep. The Commission approved 31 of the 35 requests [ The chart in the staff report  (herestates there were 37 variance applications with 3 denied.] for a variance from the parking size requirements submitted between 2006 and 2015, recognizing that modern cars are smaller than those that were common when the size regulations were adopted in 1976. The Commission might consider reducing the required size of parking spaces in all zones to be 8.5 feet wide by 18 feet deep for a standard space and 7.5 feet wide by 15 feet deep for a compact space. This would align with the requirements in most other cities in the region.”


  • Cars are getting smaller.
  • People should purchase smaller cars for the environment.
  • Development projects are penalized by requirements for large parking spaces.
  • Smaller garages will encourage Piedmonters to buy small cars.
  • Property should not be taken up with large garages.
  • Piedmont’s parking size requirement is larger than surrounding cities.
  • Variance application costs would be reduced by the change.
  • Variances are frequently approved and should be reserved for extraordinary conditions.
  • Staff time is taken up with requests for variances.


  • Numerous streets are heavily impacted by cars parked on the street making driving difficult and unsafe.
  • Decades old garages are too small for today’s vehicles.
  • In Piedmont, large SUVs proliferate.
  • The statistical information provided by staff does not state the reasons variances were given in the past.
  • The statistical information provided by staff does not state the dimensions of the variances given in the past.
  • There is no staff information provided on why some applicants did not receive Planning Commission approval for a variance.
  • The hands of future Planning Commissioners should not be tied by a reduced parking space size.
  • Planning Commissioners should determine if a space should be smaller rather than have size automatically reduced.
  • Piedmont is unlike the cities mentioned as models in the staff report.
  • Small garages are a deterrent to use.
  • Smaller garages will force more cars onto the street.
  • Smaller garages are frequently used for storage rather than for cars.
  • Residents purchase a car because they want it, not because of garage size.
  • Most applicants comply with the current parking space dimensions.
  • Social engineering should not determine the size of the parking space size.

A quick survey of some nearby communities revealed that the City of Orinda sets their parking space dimensions at 9 feet by 19 feet.  The City of Lafayette notes at a minimum: “Parking spaces required to be located in a garage or carport shall not be less than 20 feet in length and 10 feet in width and otherwise meeting the requirements for full sized parking spaces.” Both sample cities require a larger size than the 8.5′ X 18 ‘ proposed.

Staff was directed by the majority on the Commission to return with language to specify a reduced parking space size requirement.

Further, the Commission directed staff to develop language to:

  • Keep the currently required number of parking spaces correlated to the number of bedrooms;
  • Propose electrical outlets within setbacks for charging electric vehicles;
  • Propose a clearer definition of “structure”;
  • Reduce setback requirements to allow eaves and other building features to intrude into standard setbacks;
  • Further define setbacks;
  • Change definition of front, side, and backyards setbacks in relation to alleyways;
  • Reduce lot size requirements for Zone A from 10,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet and street frontage requirements from 100 feet to 60 feet;
  • Propose changes to Zone E for consistency with Zone A requirements.

The Commissioners started their regular meeting at 5:00 p.m., which included their usual dinner break around 6:30 p.m.. At 7:45 p.m. the Commissioners undertook Chapter 17 matters.   By 9:00 p.m., Commissioner weariness ended the public hearing and further consideration of Chapter 17 revisions.  The Commissioners were requested by staff to return to the May meeting with the April 11, 2016 staff report to continue considerations of changes to Chapter 17.

All revised language will return to the Planning Commission for their consideration prior to submittal of final recommendations to the City Council.  The Council will then hold their own public hearing to consider the proposed changes prior to adopting any ordinances following their two required public meetings.

The current target date to finalize revisions to Chapter 17 is by the end of 2016.

Residents who have comments may submit them to:

Piedmont Planning Commission via Interim Planning Director Kevin Jackson, City of Piedmont, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611 or via email @ kjackson@ci.piedmont.ca.us


Piedmont City Council via City Clerk John Tulloch at 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611 or email jtulloch@ci.piedmont.ca.us

3 Responses to “Are Too Many Cars Parked on Piedmont Streets?”

  1. YES…. 100 block of Olive Avenue is FILLED with casual carpoolers, not residents, and we cannot park in front of our houses to unload groceries, we cannot have visitors ’cause no place to park. The west side of the street is parked bumper to bumper. PLEASE help us.

  2. How many Piedmonters have their garages filled with everything other than cars? If they stopped doing that and, instead, took their cars off of the streets and put them back into their garages, some of this problem would be mitigated.

  3. Parking is definitely a problem! Living near Ace Hardware, I find customer and delivery vehicles parked in resident parking spots, blocking driveways, and even in my driveway. I’ve had UPS driver argue with me while I stand in the rain pointing at resident sign with kids to unload- as if lunch breaks trump parking laws! I see vehicles parked for days in 2 hour parking spots and recently I discovered that employees of ACE are supposed to be parking on Linda Avenue per Conditional Use Permit which has been in effect since 1999. Of course, parking on Linda Avenue will be getting more difficult with the luxury buildings over there.
    I’m extremely disappointed with Piedmont City Council and Planning Commission that they want to eliminate parking requirements and squeeze more business and residential spaces into this area while sanctimoniously disregarding the input of the people who actually live here. I truly regret moving to Piedmont!

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