Amanda Stout

2007 Public Policy Summer Fellow

May 1, 2007
Graduate Degree:MIT
Undergraduate Degree:Williams College
Areas of interest:Land-use and planning
Mentor:Judith Grant Long, Graduate School of Design
Agency:Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, City of Somerville
Supervisor:Madeleine Masters, Director of Planning
Project Description:Amanda's fellowship placement was in the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development in the City of Somerville, Massachusetts. She worked with the Director of Planning on a specific project: examining regulatory and policy solutions to develop a parking strategy for the city. Somerville, the most densely populated city in New England, is in a period of growth and change. She learned that one of the greatest obstacles to economic development—particularly the redevelopment of small lots in dense squares and neighborhoods—is the parking regulations outlined in the Somerville Zoning Ordinance. Since parking requirements are too high, policies that affect changes are too stringent, and relief measures are too cumbersome, it is clear that Somerville needs a parking strategy. In addition to qualitative research on parking, Amanda developed some specific recommendations for the city to pursue: proposed zoning language that would make parking regulations less restrictive, especially for smaller projects, and suggestions for how the city might incorporate other parking methods (such as structured parking, shared parking, off-site parking, in-lieu fess, and municipally-provided parking) into their plans. In considering the way that parking is zoned for, planned for, and paid for, Somerville must recognize and appreciate its fundamentally urban character. The city is full of thriving, mixed-use squares and traditionally dense, walkable residential neighborhoods—the characteristics that many towns wish they could recreate. Amending the current zoning ordinance and formalizing and codifying certain practices will ensure that Somerville maintains these assets and that local regulations are easier for citizens, developers, planners, and city staff to understand and navigate.