California Bill Would Eliminate Parking Requirements Near Transit

The bill's author and housing advocates argue that easing parking requirements would ease the state's affordable housing crisis and promote the state's climate goals.

2 minute read

May 6, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Parking

Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock

"It’s time to prioritize housing people over housing cars," argues the Los Angeles Times editorial board, writing in support of a new bill introduced by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), which "would prohibit cities from requiring parking in developments within a half mile of a major transit stop or transit corridor." Under the proposed bill, builders can still provide parking, but blanket requirements would be eliminated.

"The state’s obsession with providing abundant parking means the cost of new construction, particularly for housing, is unnecessarily inflated." Assembly Bill 1401 "could help with two essential and sometimes overlapping goals: easing the housing crisis and reducing climate-warming emissions from vehicles." 

"In some cities that are resistant to new development, stringent parking requirements are a de facto way of blocking higher-density multifamily housing and lower-income housing," encouraging the development of only high-end units that will give developers a higher return on their investment to make the project financially viable. According to one analysis, "building a parking structure added nearly $36,000 per unit." Easing parking requirements has had demonstrably positive effects on housing development. "Two decades ago, Los Angeles eased parking requirements to make it easier to convert old commercial buildings into apartments and condos. This adaptive reuse ordinance helped create nearly 7,000 units downtown by 2008."

Eliminating mandatory parking will also help the state reach its climate goals, the editorial board argues. "There’s simply no way California can meet its climate goals without slashing emissions from transportation." To reduce the need for private vehicles, "[i]t’s time to flip on its head the 'car is king' thinking that has shaped California’s development patterns for the last half-century."

In an op-ed published in Bloomberg CityLab, Assemblymember Friedman and UCLA Urban Planning professor and author of The High Cost of Free Parking Donald Shoup write that "[t]hese outdated planning policies make it difficult to build more multi-family homes within urban boundaries, fueling an unprecedented housing shortage that is entirely artificial in origin." Although they acknowledge that "parking reform isn’t a silver bullet to solve these problems, it is a vital ingredient — and one that’s already gaining traction: Many cities in California have already made the leap to break free from the high cost of 'free' parking." However, "these harmful requirements remain in place in most cities, reinforcing the need for statewide action to address California’s climate, transportation and housing challenges."

Monday, April 26, 2021 in Los Angeles Times

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

Black-and-white photo of street with old black model T and brick building on the corner.

The History of Racial Zoning and Housing Discrimination in the US

More than a century of discriminatory housing policy divided cities and contributed to the racial wealth gap and other social and economic inequities.

12 minutes ago - Urban Land Magazine

Aerial view of Vail, Colorado in winter with multi-story buildings in foregorund and snowy mountains in background.

Opinion: Resort Towns Must Take Action to Keep Housing Affordable

The workers that keep many popular tourist destinations running find it more difficult to find affordable housing near their jobs as more remote workers move to scenic resort areas.

1 hour ago - Governing

Aerial view of downtown San Antonio, Texas.

Commentary: San Antonio Needs ‘Thoughtful Reforms’ to Improve Affordability

The growing Texas city needs a new approach to meet its residents’ housing and mobility needs.

2 hours ago - San Antonio Report

Senior Planner

Heyer Gruel Associates

Regional Transportation Planner

Crater Planning District Commission

Senior Planner- Long range

Prince William County Planning Office

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.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.