Austin Won't Commit to Parking Reductions for Affordable Housing Project

The developer of a proposed affordable housing argues that minimum parking requirements will reduce the number of units or pass costs to tenants, Austin regulators expressed are worried about local parking supplies and access to public transit.

1 minute read

July 18, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Austin Texas

KENNY TONG / Shutterstock

The city of Austin's Board of Adjustments postponed making a decision on a parking variance for a North Central Austin affordable housing development until they can gather more information, reports Elizabeth Pagano. "[T]he project at 8300 N. Interstate 35 is an 'unusual' conversion of a hotel into multifamily affordable housing" that is "being converted under a restrictive covenant that requires at least half of the units be affordable to those earning 60 percent or below the median family income," making it less likely that residents will own cars at the same rate as more affluent households. "To keep the project affordable, [the developer] was asking for an 18 percent reduction – 44 spaces – from what the city code requires." Board members expressed discomfort with approving the variance, citing concerns about local access to public transportation and street parking. "You have some very strong neighborhood opposition and I don’t think there is any nearby on-street parking," said Board Member Brooke Bailey.

Growing evidence suggests that parking requirements, often based on outdated models that no longer reflect the reality of urban dwellers, stifle affordable housing development in areas that need it most and are usually higher than the actual needs of residents. Cities around the country have begun to reevaluate their parking requirements and create more exemptions for affordable housing developers.

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