Eliminate or Reduce Minimum Parking Requirements

Minimum parking requirements are typically based on parking-demand-generation rates identified for an extensive variety of land use types within the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Parking Generation Manual.

As the manual makes clear, however, these rates are derived from data primarily collected within suburban, car-dependent contexts. Predictably, the use of these ratios to set minimum parking requirements leads to an oversupply of parking in most contexts in which walking, cycling, transit and other options offer attractive and viable alternatives to drive-alone mobility.


Such minimum parking requirements will invariably create an oversupply of parking among TOD projects, which in turn will depress parking rates and demand for alternative-mode use, transit foremost among them. This oversupply also reduces developable densities while increasing the cost of housing and commercial space in the associated TOD projects. These unintended consequences arise from a very common development-code requirement that is also commonly waived in downtown districts to avoid these same challenges to walkable-urban objectives. As a result, many cities are choosing to also waive, lower, or provide alternative means of satisfying these requirements in designated TOD areas.

Difficulty

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Cost

Impact

Key Benefits

  • Provides developers with greater flexibility in designing and programming their projects

  • Increases the potential density of mixed-use developments

  • Incentivizes further development, by increasing the return-on-investment potential by removing the cost of unneeded parking supplies and maximizing the land-use buildout potential

  • Facilitates TOD that optimizes tax-generating land-use densities and benefits from walkable/transit-focused urban design that furthers transit ridership and mode-shift objectives

Case Studies

 NATIONAL 

 REGIONAL 

Downtown Transit Center

Redmond, WA

The City of Redmond used reduced parking requirements to incentivize TOD around the Redmond Downtown Transit Center. Beginning in 1993, Redmond reduced parking requirements around the Transit Center from an average of two spaces per unit to 1.25 spaces alongside a corresponding increase in the allowed density of development. This allowed developers to build a greater mix of uses and increase residential density near the Transit Center. Following the success of this policy, in 2013 parking requirements were further reduced to 0.94 spaces per unit. The success of Redmond’s TOD inspired further mixed-use development in downtown Redmond. As of 2015, residential units in the TOD were almost fully leased. This success was only possible due to the City’s decision to lower parking requirements to a level that enabled effective TOD.

Union Square

Carrollton Square, TX

Union at Carrollton Square is a TOD located along DART’s Green Line. In 2009, the City of Carrollton approved a TOD on City property in Downtown Carrollton. This development was enabled by a 2005 amendment to the Carrollton Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance which established a new Transit Center Zoning District. This district lowered parking requirements for residential units to 1.25 spaces per unit and eliminated requirements for visitor parking. It also placed a cap on how many parking spaces could be reserved in order to incentivize shared parking.

Implementation Considerations

Role of Public Sector

  • Removes or significantly reduces minimum parking requirements in the zoning code, either within designated TOD districts or for development within a defined distance of fixed-route transit access.

Role of Private Sector

  • Makes use of study findings regarding parking utilization to adjust local understanding of and calculus for determining TOD parking needs

Timing

  • Applies to future developments, but can also be used to eliminate/reduce requirements for proposed changes to existing development