Researchers Flaunt the Benefits of Reduced Minimum Parking Requirements

Seattle is one of the U.S. cities shrinking minimum parking requirements to allow for denser, more affordable development near transit.

December 2, 2020, 11:00 AM PST

By Lee Flannery @leecflannery


Rigucci / Shutterstock

An oversupply of parking in U.S. cities has grave unintended consequences, directly leading to "higher housing costs, inefficient land uses, and more vehicle ownership and driving. As such, oversupplying parking harms the environment, reduces housing affordability, and thwarts efforts to improve social equity," C.J. Gabbe, Gregory Pierce, and Gordon Clowers say. 

The writers explain a case study in Seattle, where after parking minimums were reduced in 2012, the city was seemingly able to increase housing development projects and encourage modes of transportation other than the automobile. The minimum requirement reduction, in line with the city's comprehensive plan, eliminated on-street parking for multifamily housing in dense urban areas, and dramatically decreased minimums for areas in close proximity to transit options. 

Gabbe, Pierce, and Clowers conducted research to determine if developers built less parking in the areas with reduced requirements. Studying 60,361 housing units between 2012 and 2017, the researchers found that developers did, in fact, build less parking when requirements were reduced. 

"About two-thirds of the projects we examined — mainly those in the downtown and its densest surrounding urban centers — were not required to provide any off-street parking. Most buildings in our sample provided less than one parking space per unit, and a sizable share, nearly 20%, provided no parking at all," the team writes. "Our results show that (1) minimum parking requirements often constrain developers, and (2) reducing those requirements leads to less parking, which presumably means cost savings for developers and lower housing prices for consumers."

When developers are forced to comply with excessive parking requirements, the researchers point out, they lose out on space and funds that could be used to build commercial or residential units. According to Gabbe, Pierce, and Clowers, less parking could mean more housing, and in turn, less incentive for automobile reliance.

Friday, November 20, 2020 in Transfers Magazine

Stylized rendering of the Midwest Regional Rail Network

Federal Railroad Administration Proposes New Midwest Rail Network

If built, regional high-speed rail networks could provide an alternative to uncomfortable air travel and prevent travelers from becoming stranded at airports during extreme weather.

January 17, 2022 - The Urbanist

New York City Politicians wears a mask at a New York subway station during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Leadership at New York Department of City Planning

With a new mayoral administration comes new planning leadership in the Big Apple.

January 20, 2022 - New York City


'15-Minute City' To Be Built in Utah

A community that focuses on reducing the need for car ownership and providing effective multimodal transportation and diverse land uses will be built from scratch on the site of the decommissioned Utah State Prison.

January 19, 2022 - Streetsblog USA

Suburban Homes

Experts Express Pessimism Over Housing Costs

Although the current housing crisis has been compared with the housing crash of the late 2000s, experts caution that affordability issues could plague the U.S. housing market for years to come.

3 hours ago - The New York Times

online education

Annual Google Scholar Citation Data for Planning Faculty

Publish or perish?

4 hours ago - Tom Sanchez

Texas Apartment Construction

What the Microchip Shortage Reveals About Housing

The microchip shortage facing the automotive industry illustrates the significant impact that supply has on the cost of durable goods.

5 hours ago -

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Case Study posted on HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.