Lunchtime is busy at Brasil restaurant on Westheimer. The Montrose eatery has been here for twenty years. They have access to some 15 parking places, but most customers park on the street.
Owner Dan Fergus thinks a proposed ordinance requiring businesses to provide more parking is foolish, and would adversely impact the neighborhoods like Montrose that make Houston, well, Houston.
"It's a simple question. If you don't like density, don't like interaction, why move here?" He says Houston has been getting buzz as a cool, hip city thanks to neighborhoods like Montrose, the Heights and Washington Avenue. Restaurants like his and hip funky little stores make the neighborhood that make Houston. The only large chains could afford the extra parking.
The ordinance as written would require bars to increase parking by 40%, restaurants by 20%. Existing businesses would be grandfathered in. Free standing restaurants under 2,000 square feet would be exempt.
But people who live near busy restaurants say something has to change. Susan Wootten lives a block away from Brasil. She says customers regularly park in front of her house, so friends have no place to park when they come to visit. Then there's the traffic and the noise. "It has a huge impact on the people who live on the street and live in the community." She knows the restaurants were here first. "The area has gone through a change." she says. "More families live here now."