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Lehi’s lunch time congestion

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Lehi – Among many of the issues with a growing city like Lehi is dealing with the lunch time rush. If you have tried to find parking in the newer shopping centers around lunch time in Lehi you have seen the issues. Cars are parked on the streets as well as the roads leading to the strip malls and areas with popular lunch spots. If you visit those same places later in the day, you often are able to park right in front. So what does a city do to deal with the lunch time rush?

Lehi City has a design standard in place that builders must follow regarding allowances for parking. The problem is that the builder and Lehi City do not know who tenants will be when the initial planning and zoning of the shopping center starts. There are three different types of standards that Lehi City has in place for these type of businesses as set forth by the Development Code document, chapter 37, Table 37.090 Off-Street Parking.

Restaurants Dine-in/Brew Pub: 1 stall for each 2.5 seats plus 0.5 spaces per employee on the largest shift (minimum of 5 employee spaces).

Restaurants – Drive-thru (Food establishment with large proportion of take-out business): 1 stall per 150 square feet of gross floor area (does not include drive thru stalls or waiting areas).

Retail Stores: 1 stall for each 300 square feet of gross floor area.

When a new retail development is presented to Lehi City, planners and developers often expect a mix of different retail and restaurant options and present their pad design with that in mind. Often the builder does not have tenants in place in the beginning, and the approval from the city can occur a year or two before construction is finished. Tenants can sign their leases after the location is built and the city has approved the parking layout, creating a shortage of parking spaces if all the tenants are restaurants.

The shopping area with Cubby’s, Smash Burger, Costa Vida, Arby’s, JDawgs and Zupas created this lunchtime parking situation. “We didn’t know this was going to happen,” said Kim Struthers, Community Development Director for Lehi City. “I don’t know how we would have known. The builder was expecting a clothing store, a shoe store and maybe one or two restaurants. As a city, we don’t have a way to say ‘you can build a building but only have this type of retailer in it.’ If we know they are going to be a fast food location on a corner, we base the parking off of the restaurant, but neither the builder or city know who every tenant is going to be.”

“We know that it is crowded during lunch but you often can find parking as people are going in and out so you don’t have to park on the street. You also have people walking to these locations from the local businesses. There is not a parking issue if you visit during nights or weekends. We don’t want to build more parking that is costly and sits empty for most the day just to relieve the lunch time rush,” Struthers added.

“The retail and food industry world is changing. Within the past two years retail has been decreasing as we see more people moving to online purchasing, while the food industry is booming. It is something we are seeing in other cities, not just in Lehi.”

Struthers mentioned that Lehi will most likely be looking at future retail developments which will likely have even more restaurants and less retail businesses, and will plan accordingly.

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