Berkeley to Remove Parking Requirements for Residential Properties

Berkeley is the second city in Northern California to approve landmark zoning reforms so far in 2021.

January 27, 2021, 8:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

East Bay Area

The green band of Telegraph Avenue, where it connects the city of Berkeley to the city of Oakland. | Sundry Photography / Shutterstock

The city of Berkeley, known for many decades as a hot bed of anti-development politics, last night undertook a major step in reforming its zoning code to create incentives for more residential development.

At a hearing that lasted into the evening, the Berkeley City Council approved an ordinance that eliminates parking requirements for residential properties citywide, with a few exceptions on hillside properties.

The City Council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance according to multiple sources in attendance at the hearing last night, including Councilmember Rigel Robinson. The vote marks a significant milestone for the city, which has a reputation for anti-development politics amidst sky-high real estate prices. A recent story about the "conservative" development politics in the city of San Francisco could very well have been written about the Berkeley of the relatively recent past, in addition to the more distant pastThat reputation has begun to shift in more recent years, as new leadership has altered the development politics of the City Council. In 2019, the city decided to study zoning for new Missing Middle Housing, and the city was among the first to ban natural gas in new buildings. 

An article by Patrick Siegman detailed the Berkeley parking reform ordinance before the City Council's vote. Siegman provides specific details about the ordinance, in addition to explaining the thinking behind parking requirement reform:

Reforms recommended by the Planning Commission would remove minimum parking requirements for all residential land uses, with the exception of some lots located on roadways less than 26 feet wide in hillside areas. The Planning Commission also recommends adopting maximum parking limits and instituting transportation demand management requirements for residential land uses.

The city of Berkeley's decision to eliminate parking requirements for residential properties follows just days after the city of Sacramento, located 90 miles to the northeast of Berkeley, approved landmark parking reforms while approving citywide zoning changes.

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