Indy Rezone Kickoff Meeting

On July 5th from 6 to 8 pm, the Mayor is announcing the kickoff of a new program known as Indy Rezone at the Central Library.  The website and facebook page are under maintenance right now, but this program could be the start of something huge for the city.  Urban Indy hopes to use this opportunity to influence the city to push for city-wide form-based codes, as well as changing or even dropping the requirements for parking minimums.   We hope to see as many of our readers at this meeting as possible.

Comments 30

  • “dropping the requirements for parking minimums” – that would be huge, I hope it gets serious consideration.

  • Ballard and the powers that be will use “Indy Rezone” as a stepping stone to more taxpayer-funded projects that primarily benefit private parties. The City for example funded the Lilly hotel complex, when no other entity would touch it. That’s how things work in Indy, pay to play.

    The City could take any number of steps to improve the lives here, like funding more buses inside 465, and addressing zoning (and weeds) violations proactively. They don’t, because there’s no money to be made. Big profits come from big projects, which is why we’re spending over $200,000 per unit for low-income housing at 16th and College, when hundreds of decent houses can be had for $50,000.

    I realize this sounds negative, but good grief, we tore down the first NFL stadium before it was even paid off.

    My other concern is the tone of the thing, this bit sounds like something from Ceausescu: “Marion County‟s gross density is 3.51 persons per acre (1.67 dwelling units per acre), which is well below a sustainable density”. So what ? If people want to live in denser areas, they can. Do we have to force everyone, a la Portland, to cram into as little space as possible ? Huge tracts of Marion County are farmland.

    The info about this effort is at:

    • Gene you make a good point about density but currently, ALL of Marion County is developed like that. For whatever reason, some people do not have the choice to move away be it family, job, etc whatever. Shouldn’t we be able to craft our development policies to make at least some of our city favorable for people who want to live that way? It currently is not. From my perspective, the policy is written I feel like I am “forced” to live in a city which promotes spread out living.
      For me, this initiative represents a way to change that, and provide more options. In terms of markets, we are influenced far one way by current policy.

    • Additionally, not all of Portland is “crammed into as little space as possible”. They still have lots of transportation problems because large empoyment centers exist on the edge of their developable land. They are not all crammed in as you assert. However, at least in Portland, people have the choice to live in dense downtown, where you can live without a car, walk everywhere and use MAX and streetcar.
      Conversely, we do not have that option here. The resulting difference are the cast oceans of parking lots we have here which contrinute nothing to the urabn environment, destroy connectivity and create environmental problems.

  • Based on experience with retailers who never want a full parking lot, density would be better served by not only limiting parking minimums but also putting into place parking maximums. Have any of you ever seen 60 cars at a certain national pharmacy chain at the same time? Regardless it’s a design standard for them.

    • Surprisingly, yes, at the 16th & Meridian CVS. That lot is consistently well-parked. DMD staff and the neighborhood CDC tried to convince them to use the allowable minimum of (IIRC) 42 spaces. They put in something more than 70 based on their prior experience at 18th & Illinois.

    • It should also be noted that several street spaces go unused and several bus routes pass directly by. Instead of investing in existing infrastructure, we dedicated half of that land to peak parking periods…..I am sure the residents to the east are thrilled.

      • Please be fair: at 16th & Meridian both the developer of the Walgreen’s and the developer of the CVS invited IndyGo to place shelters on their property, and each maintains its stop pretty well. Both stores have a direct sidewalk to the main entry from the public sidewalk…no walking across parking lot is ncessary as in a suburban store. CVS built an extra sidewalk on Scioto Street (the alley to the east) to make it easier for ONS and Herron Morton residents to walk to the store. CVS has excellent alley access for cars. Both incorporated previously paved parking areas.
        I’m not saying those developments are anywhere near “urban perfection” but they are both good. If you want to make the perfect into the enemy of the good, then more power to you, but you won’t get much done.

        • I was simply saying that alternatives existed and the oversized parking lot wasn’t necessary……..It is an additional subsidy by society to focus towards the car. I’m not saying no parking was necessary at this point, but there are many people who have a choice between bus/bike/walk and drive. If the parking is “provided” for them, they will probably drive.

          • I worked within walking distance of these sites for more than five years and did business with them regularly. Sometimes I walked, sometimes I drove, and it had almost nothing to do with any design feature of the site and almost everything to do with personal convenience (i.e. what/where I was on the way to or from at the moment or whether I could comfortably carry what I was purchasing).
            My point is that the physical features of those specific sites DO facilitate multi-modal access and use; a reasonable number of customers do walk. The relative weight of the design features clearly recognize that the car is the dominant mode. I frequently cite this corner as because it is near a densely-populated neighborhood, in one of the most walkable parts of the metro, on the best-served public transit corridor in the city.
            It is pretty clear that with regard to multimodal accessibility, the “Field of Dreams” meme doesn’t necessarily work: if you build it, they may or may not come.

  • Something has to change this city’s antiquated, suburban zoning standards. This seems like a decent first step. Indianapolis needs to invest in higher density to attract people. Simple but true.

  • I’ve enjoyed reading your articles and the comments/discussion regarding parking/zoning/etc. over the past few months. Do you think, however, that there may be a need for minimum parking regulations for some areas?

    Were we to consider a commercial development in a residential area (56th & Illinois and 49th & Pennsylvania as examples), uncontained parking, if unchecked, becomes a penalty/problem for those people who have chosen a walkable neighborhood. These two nodes bring in car traffic from outside the neighborhoods. Were no regulations in place, higher-density venues would not be discouraged making it not inconceivable that these additional visitors would simply line the nearby streets. One of the goals of eliminating the parking minimums is to encourage people to find alternative transportation to these spots. My hope is that this would happen over time. But I think that the reality is that a group of people from more than five miles away will end up driving a car to Patachou/Emporium/etc. for a weekend meal.

    The subtext here as well is the call for higher density use in many neighborhoods. I think most of us here not only agree with this, but are ardent supporters of this idea. Mass Ave certainly could benefit as could other areas with an infrastructure that is under-utilized (Downtown in general, Fountain Square, any of the abandoned Big-Box corners in the city, etc…). That said, I’m not at all convinced that all neighborhoods need to become higher-density. Meridian-Kessler and Butler-Tarkington already have a good density of population, though some commercial nodes in the southern portions could be better utilized. Would a significant increase otherwise in that change their character? Broad Ripple? Irvington?

    I apologize for my babbling.

    • Thanks for the intriguing comment.

      Some might see a popular restaurant in their neighborhood as a liability, but it could also potentially attract new residents who would like to live closely said popular restaurant. I believe that Napolese is a great addition to the neighborhood. Of course I wish that people would have more options for getting there aside from driving, but at least they now have a nice large bicycle rack.

      • Kevin, it’s interesting that you note Napolese. That very space was my firm’s office for several years before our move to the Circle.
        I do want to stress that I do not think that a popular restaurant (such as Napolese) is inherently a “liability.” Indeed, the current make-up at 49th & Penn is almost perfect (the return of a small grocery being sorely wanted). It is great for the residents like me as well as being an attraction for those considering the area. But there are spaces there that could potentially go from low-car impact to a high-car impact without parking minimums or other regulations that take impact into account. A larger number of high-car impact businesses would then, by its nature, spill-over into the surrounding neighborhood for several blocks. I can certainly say without reservation that large numbers of buyers do not like to consider homes when cars from businesses are regularly parked in front of the home they are considering. A good case in point is the area adjacent to Butler University. Until students were required to park on campus, Buckingham, Blue Ridge, and Hampton going east of the campus were lined with cars. The noise, litter, and, frankly, unsightliness made things very unpleasant for the residents. While the parking bit still occurs during certain Clowes events, it has improved a great deal.
        Thanks so much for this forum! I hope I’m not abusing it.

        • “I do want to stress that I do not think that a popular restaurant (such as Napolese) is inherently a “liability.”

          I would agree with your comment in principle. However, as a eleven year resident at 48th and Pennsylvania, I can honestly tell you that there is a significant difference now than when we moved there.
          Employees from the new and expanded resturants completely occupied the front of my home and at times, spill over onto 48th St. What’s the big deal? That situation has created a hazard for the many pedestrians (moms, strollers, walkers, bicycles) in the area due to severe sight limitations along Penn. In addition, 48th is narrow and with cars parked on both sides, is single lane.

          “The positive is that it disempowers the non-term-limited neighborhood organization NIMBYs, who have learned to manipulate the variance process to gain personal power and press their own agendas.”

          I would hope that residents who have an investment in a given area could have a voice without being a “NIMBY”. Some have legitimate concerns. I also hope that owners of businesses who happen to be well connected and have a legal team at their disposal can’t do whatever they want lacking real oversight.

          I have just moved from the area, the issues no longer affect me. I have enjoyed reading this blog for quite some time, this was the first time I felt compelled to comment.

          • To be clear: the traffic and safety-based arguments are not “NIMBY” in my book; at the time the variance was being argued, many of the current realities you cite were raised as likely outcomes by the neighbors.
            “We just don’t want that here” is NIMBY.

  • Why do you want to get rid of the parking minimums?

    • Come out to my office in Lawrence, Zach. I’ll give you the “Tour de Asphalt”. 🙂

    • I would like to at least have a conversation about the possibility. If nothing else, it could be a way for Indy to do something ground-breaking in the region. It might not be right for the city, but I do believe that letting developers decide how much parking they really need is an enticing prospect.

  • GB Landrigan, our zoning code only obliquely addresses what you’re getting at, which is intensity of use. If everybody just walked to, say, Yat’s or any other restaurant along College, no parking problem. But since I still like to visit that part of town after moving away, I’m one of those people driving from more than 5 miles.
    Intensity is a land-use feature that concentrates a large number of people in an active place on a regular and transient basis. Thus accommodation of transportation modes is critical. Indianapolis is, and will remin for our children’s lifetimes, a car-based city, and especially intensification of use wthout accompanying density (as as 49/Penn) will continue to be problematic. Destination shops and restaurants especially so.
    I don’t yet have “the answer” but hope to at least help define “the question” through the Rezone process.

    • Unfortunately, Chris is right. This may create some growing pains but what it will DEMAND is more transportation options. This may be another key piece in the puzzle that causes our conservative local politicians to shake loose and speak up about better transportation options.

  • It would be really, really nice to create a zoning ordinance that was capable of recognizing the area in which something was proposed. Having participated in Broad Ripple’s first look into form based code, and now Meridian’s Kessler’s version thereof, there are places, even within smaller areas like BR or MK, that are remarkably different, and which, because of those differences, ought to operate under different guidelines. If this really heralds a plan to bring form based code to Indy, it’s not going to be a quick and easy process, but if it involves the level of public input we saw in BR, we could see a lot less variance hearings a while down the road.

  • Parking Minimum Should be revamped, not dropped. Clearly the standards are outdated and in some cases misapplied. Parking set up for a low volume business in the 60s or 70s, currently host High volume business causing unsafe traffic flows around them. So please, Change to update but don’t do it for business. Codes and rules should help, protect and serve People, not the other way around.

  • The point in form based code is that it recognized the unique qualities of individual areas. That also ought to hold true of parking requirements. We have areas that were initially designed with the automobile in mind, and others where it clearly wasn’t. Thus, we have business areas that have, captive, zero parking, and others with more than ample parking for the Republican Convention. We have areas in which residents assume they own the street parking in front of their homes, and others where no one parks on the street. We have areas where, despite the presence of garages and alleys, they’re considered storage areas, not residences for automobiles, and similarly, we have navigable alleys, and alleys where one might fear taking a functional WWII jeep. Any discussion concerning parking, especially if you really intend there to be some sort of rule, , needs to account for those variables. No uniform county rule makes any sense.

    • I’ve spent many of my adult years working on and dealing with zoning-based regulation. The tension is between a one-size fits all rule that is very clear (on the one hand), and a murky administrative rule that puts a fair amount of discretion in the hands of government staff.
      The risk of the former is what we have: variances for everything because “one size fits all” really doesn’t fit anything. The risk of the latter is that an overzealous “expert” regulator becomes our very own version of Robert Moses, imposing her/his own vision on the city or area in question.
      The positive is that it disempowers the non-term-limited neighborhood organization NIMBYs, who have learned to manipulate the variance process to gain personal power and press their own agendas.

  • Very well said, Chris Barnett!
    “I’m not saying those developments are anywhere near “urban perfection” but they are both good. If you want to make the perfect into the enemy of the good, then more power to you, but you won’t get much done.”

  • One year into the Envision Broad Ripple (EBR) process, DMD planners recommended a Form-Based Code (FBC) approach. Our response: “What’s that?” Thus began an intensive educational effort that continues to this day. It’s good to see this discussion broadening to include the entire metro area. This website continues to be the best local site to help move the conversation forward. The draft updated Master Plan for the Village that is emerging from the 4+ year EBR process will serve as the “Vision Plan”; the first step toward getting FBC adopted as suitable for the Village. We hope to see the Vision Plan adopted yet this year. Here’s the catch: it’s only a “recommendation.” So the FBC and/or Complete Streets elements of the plan are “only” recommendations – ripe for variances. For any of the FBC or Complete Streets aspects to be required, the Code needs to be modified so that these elements are enshrined in the code. That makes granting a variance tougher (at least in theory.) The importance of Indy Rezone & the current Complete Streets ordinance making its way through the CCCouncil cannot be overstated. Both of these initiatives are essential if we want to give neighborhoods the tools they need to make good decisions about their future growth and development.

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