Among the lesser known land-use regulations that have serious consequences for density, urban development, and the environment are parking requirements.
These regulations do exactly what it sounds like they do. Generally, they impose a requirement that a given dwelling must have a certain number of parking spots allocated along with it. San Francisco is looking to do away with this particularly regressive regulation. From Joshua Sabatini of the San Francisco Examiner:
San Francisco is poised to become the first big U.S. city to no longer require developers to include at least some parking in their housing developments.
Legislation introduced by Supervisor Jane Kim strips the planning code of a minimum parking requirement that is already largely circumvented in practice by providing other alternatives like bicycle parking. San Francisco’s minimum parking requirements date back to the 1950s.
“It would not prohibit parking in any redevelopment. It would merely remove the requirement that a developer would have to build a minimum number of parking spaces,” Kim said during Monday’s Land Use and Transportation Committee hearing.
Kim said the parking requirements don’t play a significant role in developments given various policies adopted by The City in recent years to reduce parking.
San Francisco would in fact go further than the YIMBY promised land of Houston. Despite its liberal zoning codes, Houston’s parking requirements are quite onerous (though Space City has recently moved to reduce parking requirements in some neighborhoods).
What makes parking requirements particularly nonsensical in cities is that one of the greatest appeals of urbanization is that it makes driving less necessary. Density makes walking or taking public transit a far more efficient and attractive alternative to driving. Between the cost associated with driving a car and the toll commuting via car takes on a commuter’s health, cities are a boon in this way.
San Francisco (and the Bay Area more generally) is ground zero in the housing development debate. Frisco has a long way to go, and this proposal is one of the little strokes that will fall the great oak that is the affordability crisis and NIMBYism.