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1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 513 (497)

1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition
1947-48 Theatre Catalog
1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 513
Page 513

1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 513

Municipal Regulation and Theatre Auto-Lots

A Review of Cities' Policies andiAtfitudes On Providing Off-Street Parking Facilities

The past fifteen years have seen a tremendous increase in motor vehicle traffic. In 1946, motorized America traveled more than 333 billion vehicle miles, about one-third of this travel was over streets within our city limits. This traffic within our cities varies in direct proportion to the intensity of land use. That is to say, a section of a city which attracts great masses of people may expect heavy motor vehicle traffic during the period of iniiux of the masses. This is a rather obvious statement and yet it is a condition which has been overlooked by many eflicient business organizations.

Theatres attract great throngs of people, particularly in the early evening hours, and a substantial proportion of any theatre crowd makes its way to the theatre in private automobiles. A shortage of convenient parking places will cause potential patrons to turn elsewhere for their recreationeto the outdoor movie or the neighborhood theatre. Therefore, many theatres have found it good business to provide convenient parking facilities for their customers. The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, is an excellent example of such facilities. (See 1946-47 THEATRE CATALOG, pages 30 to 32.)

However, many theatres and other forms of land use have been reticent about providing the necessary parking facilities and it has often been necessary for the city to establish requirements based upon the cityis zoning authorities.

This paper will present a review of current practices of cities in requiring od-street parking facilities in connection with various types of land uses. A section will also discuss other requirements imposed upon parking lots in order to insure proper operation. It would be wise for any theatre operator to review carefully the zoning ordinances and other regulations governing parking lots before attempting to provide such facilities in connection with his own enterprise.


Zoning has been described by the United States Department of Commerce as tithe application of common sense and fairness to the public regulations governing the use of private real estate1

. it is a part of city planning rather than an entirely separate operation, designed to promote and protect the health, safety, morals, convenience, prosperity and general welfare of the community."2

Zoning is most commonly used to control the segregation of commerce, industry, residence, recreation, and other forms of land use. This segregation is

1 A Zoning Primer, U. S. Department of Commerce, 1928. 2The Preparation of Zoning Ordinances,

I? R. Department of Commerce, 1931.




Tmllir Engineer, Erw Foundation for Highway Trajiic Control

aimed at providing better living conditions in each of the various areas devoted to different land uses. Although now in general use, zoning is a relatively new urban regulation.

Recently, a major municipal problem, parking facilities for automobiles, has been attacked through the use of zoning. Sufiicient experience has been gained to show that oiT-street facilities required by zoning provide a uniform, impartial, and effective means of assuring adequate terminal facilities in cities. It is believed that this plan will ultimately be recognized in all cities and that cities will enact zoning ordinances which will assure at least adequate provision of offstreet parking facilities to serve traffic loads generated by new businesses. However, it must be understood that the mere passage of a zoning ordinance is not in itself adequate to the relief of parking ills. Effective and impartial enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance is essential; even then, considerable time will elapse in most communities before the parking problem is alleviated through zoning. Zoning ordinances properly written and properly enforced will have a favorable longrange effect upon the parking problem of cities and towns.

Cities with Ordinances

Zoning ordinances requiring the provision of off-street parking facilities in

connection with new buildings of various types are found in 70 cities with populations 10,000 and up. These ordinances are found in cities of all sizes and throughout all sections of the country. Theatres rank second only to multiple family dwellings in the frequency with which they are required by ordinance to provide off-street parking. Figure 1 shows the number of cities requiring parking facilities in connection with new buildings of various types. Note that excluding dwelling units, theatres are most often required to furnish parking facilities in connection with new construction. This is an indication that cities have found theatres to be one of the greatest ttgenerators,y of traffic.

The idea of requiring theatres to provide parking space to accommodate the vehicles of its patrons is relatively new. Detroit, Michigan, was the first city of the group studied to place such a requirement in its zoning ordinances. This was done in 1940 when the city adopted an ordinance requiring theatres to furnish one oif-street parking space for each ten seats in the auditorium of the theatre.

The requirements vary widely among the twenty-four cities employing ordinancesefrom one parking space per four seats to one per twelve seats. Several cities require parking space to be furnished on the basis of iioor space. Two cities require space for parking equal to the total floor space of the building.

A summary of requirements for cities which impose such ordinances on

FIGURE leNumher of cities requiring off-street parking facilities by type of building. While 25 out o! the 70 surveyed cities require off-street parking facilities for theatres, the idea is relatively new. Detroit was the first city to make such a requirement in zoning ordinances. There, the rules. adopted in 1940. call for one off-street parking space for every 10 seats in the auditorium of the theatre.


.4 o



Retail Stores Single Family Dwellings

Multiple F amily Dwellings

Note: Information obtained from 70 cities


Places of Public Assembly

Hospitals Restaurants Office Buildings

Industrial Buildinas Wholesale Houses

1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 513