Smart Parking
Case Study

Suburban Case Study
Marlborough City Center
Marlborough City Center
Marlborough, MA

Marlborough is a medium-sized city located near the intersection of the Massachusetts Turnpike and Interstate 495. This strategic location near two of Massachusetts' major transportation routes makes Marlborough an attractive location for the many electronics and computer firms that currently inhabit the city. To accommodate its workforce and residential parking needs, Marlborough has enacted three zoning measures that promote a smart parking approach. The city has taken steps to decrease the oversupply of parking through provisions for shared parking, compact car spaces, and temporary reserve parking. The three distinct smart parking regulations accomplish three different objectives.

How Smart Parking Works in Marlborough

Marlborough's shared parking provision has been primarily used within the mixed-use center and is focused on taking advantage of the differing parking needs among its residential and commercial uses. Marlborough is unique in that its downtown parking supply has long been shaped by the steep slopes that lie directly behind the buildings on the north side of its Main Street. Due to lack of space for parking behind the buildings, the need for off-site shared facilities on the south side became apparent. As Marlborough's parking needs grew, the city enacted a provision for shared parking to relieve the pressure on developers to account for 100% of their parking requirements in an already limited environment.

The shared parking regulation has been effective in balancing the needs of new developments with existing businesses. Of note, Marlborough has encountered some conflicts in allowing residential parking to exist within the downtown structured facilities. First, businesses that want their parking to be as close as possible to their buildings are concerned with long-term residential parking taking up the nearby spaces. Second, the Marlborough public works department requires that all parking lots be unoccupied overnight for purposes of snow removal; creating an obvious conflict with the needs of residential parking. A lasting solution to this conflict has yet to be determined. Although the City of Marlborough has experienced some difficulties with its shared parking regulation, the end result has been largely positive in that it supports a functional, accessible mixed-used city center featuring a more efficient use of its downtown parking facilities.

Compact car spaces is the second smart parking approach used in Marlborough. The compact car regulation is straightforward in its approach as it allows up to 33% of a site's required parking spaces to be reduced by 1 foot in width and 2 feet in length. This small difference in size can add up quickly over the total parking facility, reducing the footprint needed to hold the same amount of cars. This regulation has been widely used as developers are inclined to maximize the amount of buildable land.

The temporary reserve parking regulation in Marlborough is primarily used within industrial park areas where the demand for parking on a daily basis falls significantly short of the required number of spaces. However, to accommodate increased parking demand on select occasions, it is important to provide a reserve supply of parking that can be left in a grassy or earthen state. This regulation allows developers to reduce the amount of on-site paved parking spaces, yet does not limit the total number of space available for temporary use. This helps reduce the City's total impervious surface coverage, thus improving on-site stormwater retention and surface water quality.