One obstacle to building infill and missing middle housing is existing parking policies. By eliminating minimum parking requirements and instituting transportation demand management requirements for new development, cities can make strides towards greater environmental sustainability, affordability, and other quality of life goals.
Reforming parking policy increases housing affordability. By eliminating parking minimums, developers will be able to decide appropriate parking levels based on tenants, project location, and other factors, thereby avoiding the cost of constructing greater parking supplies than necessary. Parking is expensive for developers to build, with estimates ranging from $34,000-$75,000/parking space. This cost is passed on to the end user and accounts for up to approximately 17% of monthly rent
Reforming parking policies can also increase climate resilience. Currently, zoning codes typically mandate a minimum amount of off-street parking spaces for construction. This leads to underutilized land (up to 30% in the South Bay), decreases density, and increases reliance on cars. This means that increased congestion and air pollution while degrading walkability and community environments. An excessive amount of surface parking decreases permeable surfaces, which makes areas more prone to floods, and increases the urban heat effect. Right-sizing our parking will play a key role in addressing all of those issues.
This policy is one part of the puzzle to create a more climate-SMART, livable Bay Area. By reducing single occupant trips in new development, greenhouse gas, energy use, and air pollution are reduced. Other pieces of the puzzle include increased investment in public transportation systems, alternative transportation, and micro-mobility. Additionally, progressive changes to land-use policies, including, but not limited to, the cities adopting the statewide VMT policy will further lead us to climate sustainability.
So what does reforming parking policy actually look like? Good parking policy should have two approaches: by combining robust transportation demand management strategies with the elimination of minimum parking requirements, we can reduce the need for parking spaces (which frees up resources) and increase opportunities for sustainable travel in new development. By taking this dual approach—reducing parking space while reducing the need for parking—cities will be able to build more vibrant, walkable communities that then build our climate resilience.
Benefits of parking policy reform
Increase housing affordability.
As the Bay Area’s population increases, we need to find ways to minimize the impacts of new residents, commuters, and visitors on the transportation system to accommodate this growth. The current standards are not enough to accommodate this expected growth.
Eliminating parking minimums enables
right sized parking
, such as low-parking or no-parking development where there is a market for them. This can be done by unbundling parking.
more mobility options,
prioritizing space for biking, walking, transit, and public space
It can make
infill development easier
and help improve
Promotes the transition to a more diverse, multimodal transportation system. A citywide transportation demand management program provides more sustainable transportation options for a building’s tenants, employees, residents, and visitors, which benefits neighborhoods and the City and region at large.
Improve environmental sustainability and quality of life (better air quality due to less cars on the street, less GHG emissions from fossil fuel combustion).