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Mayor and council discuss city parking issues

With Mission growing in size and density, the city is experiencing growing pains. Part of those growing pains is decreased available parking outside commercial businesses. 

The planning department staff said they have heard community concern regarding the minimum standard requirements for commercial buildings and their parking. The issue is most of the existing commercial buildings have outgrown the parking lots and streetside parking. 

City law bases commercial building parking on square footage, but it is not until a business occupies the space that the building owner knows how much parking the establishment requires. Currently, 400 square feet requires four parking spaces, and a parking space is added for each additional 400 square feet. 

Planning Director Susie De Luna said the overcrowding mainly occurs in shopping plazas and restaurants around lunch hour. With the lack of space, patrons resort to parking in other business lots, and then those owners submit complaints to the city. 

“A lot of our businesses don’t have enough parking,” De Luna said. “We’re approving the restaurants but yet they don’t have the parking.” 

Previously, the mayor and council discussed the topic at the Oct. 17, 2022 workshop. At the time, the consensus was to upgrade the parking requirement to have one parking space for every 250 square feet. As proposed, the new rule would only apply to all new commercial businesses in Mission, and the city would exempt existing establishments. 

The council agreed on the new regulation at the time. However, after revisiting the topic at the Feb. 13 meeting, Mission’s city leaders did not clearly recall the discussion from last fall. Ultimately, they felt different about their previous consensus. 

“I can see the need but I’m not totally convinced of the solution,” Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza said. 

Councilmembers expressed concern about establishments in the downtown district and how this would affect new businesses. They questioned if the regulation could exclude downtown, where the downtown limits end and how new establishments would be able to delineate where the jurisdiction begins and ends.  

“How are we going to encourage development in those vacant lots when we’re putting these kinds of requirements for them, especially downtown,” Councilmember Abiel Flores said. 

Jessica Ortega echoed a similar sentiment. 

“I would just not like for a business owner or a future business to come into Mission and not want to because it’s such a hassle with the parking and all that stuff,” the councilmember said. “As we all know, Mission has become very popular. Even right now, we have many businesses that want to come to Mission so I just don’t want to make it tough for them to come to Mission.” 

Although De Luna provided solutions to the council’s questions, Ortega suggested a workshop for further discussion. She also recommended taking a tour around the city during rush hours to see the parking issue in real-time. 

The mayor and council agreed to take no action and discuss the solution at an upcoming workshop. 

“I’m not ready to make a decision,” Councilmember Ruben Plata said. “I really want to make sure that we look out for the business community and I would rather wait.”

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