The city of St. Paul has relaxed its parking requirements for restaurants that serve alcohol.
The new rules reduce by about two-thirds the number of off-street parking spaces those restaurants need to provide for their customers.
"The old parking rules were set up in the '70s and were based on studies done in the suburbs in different parts of country, rather than an urban context and a modern context, where people are moving around differently," said St. Paul City Councilmember Russ Stark, who championed the change. "And so, the requirements just didn't make a lot of sense."
To qualify as a restaurant under the new ordinance, an establishment must close by midnight. The council also slightly reduced parking requirements for bars, which can stay open until 2 A.M.
Opponents of the change worry it will cause more restaurant patrons to park in residential neighborhoods. The council approved the new ordinance 5-1. Mayor Chris Coleman is expected to sign it.
"I think it's a solution in search for a problem," said Councilmember Dave Thune. "In St. Paul, we like to have our streets quiet. We like to have enough parking spaces for cars on commercial streets, but we don't want them back in our residential areas."