Smart Parking Case Study

Suburban Case Study
Oak Bluffs ocean front businesses
Oak Bluffs ocean front businesses
Source: Oak Bluffs town website
Oak Bluffs, MA

The Town of Oak Bluffs is a unique oceanfront town that serves as a popular vacation destination due to its distinguished character. As such, town planners are mindful of how parking standards can allow access while contributing to the quality of the built environment that made the town so popular. With its relatively dense center and the tradition of being the site of institutions that serve the island-wide community, Oak Bluffs has elected to use two innovative smart parking approaches to accommodate its parking needs while maintaining its small village setting.

How Smart Parking Works in Oak Bluffs

Oak Bluffs has utilized both fees-in-lieu and a shared parking program within its zoning ordinance. The fees-in-lieu is specified to Oak Bluff's Business 1 District and allows on-site parking requirements to be waived in lieu of a payment to the Town's Parking Mitigation Trust. The stated goal of the parking amendment is to achieve the increased intensity of uses through using on-street parking in the business district for shoppers and business employees. In the case of Oak Bluffs, fees-in-lieu are not necessarily used to fund a parking structure as the scale of the village does not necessitate such a facility. The Parking Mitigation Trust can be used to fund the maintenance and enforcement of the business district's on-street parking. Oak Bluffs parking ordinance uses the following formula to calculate its fees-in-lieu payment schedules:

Number of required off-street parking spaces


Each additional space 6-15

Each additional space after the first 15

Annual payment




Residential frontages in Oak Bluffs
Residential frontages in Oak Bluffs
Source: Oak Bluffs town website

The Town's parking ordinance also offers basic language on shared parking as part of a Special Permit process. Unlike the fee-in-lieu program, the shared parking bylaw is applicable outside the business district and allows for the less densely populated areas of the town to maintain their more rustic character. The shared parking bylaw states that two or more uses may be provided in combined lots within 500 feet from the premises. The requirements for demonstrating the feasibility of shared parking are to have a parking survey conducted by a state registered traffic engineer. Although it is only allowed through the Special Permit process, this bylaw provides developers with an alternative to meeting the town's minimum requirements in cases where excessive pavement may detract from community character and reduce quality open space.