Parking Requirements Eliminated in Cambridge, Massachusetts

A major zoning amendment was approved by the Cambridge City Council on Monday, October 24, 2022.

Read Time: 2 minutes

October 25, 2022, 10:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Cambridge Bike Lane

Adam Coppola Photography / Flickr

The City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts voted, 8-1, to eliminate parking requirements citywide yesterday. The council vote amends the city's zoning ordinance by eliminating all minimum parking requirements in the city.

The city, location of multiple universities with top ranked planning programs, becomes the first in Massachusetts to enact such a complete parking reform, reports Elias J. Schisgall for the Crimson. According to the article, the council cited "declining car ownership and the need for more open space and housing construction" as the reasons for the significant policy reform. 

The council's sole dissenting vote, Councilor Dennis J. Carlone, is quoted in the article saying that the zoning code amendment would not have the desired effect of reducing traffic, and that the real problem with parking requirements in the city is the use of parking maximums.

The parking reform is the latest example of innovative zoning practices in the city of Cambridge. In 2020, the city also adopted an affordable housing overlay, which allows affordable housing developments with bonus height and density in residential neighborhoods throughout the city, while also streamlining the development approval process for affordable housing projects.

Cambridge is the latest in a string of cities and states to adopt sweeping changes to parking requirements. The state of California most recently enacted statewide parking reforms, in August removing parking requirements for developments near transit stops, following the state of Oregon, which adopted the "Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities" rule earlier in the summer. Cincinnati eliminated parking requirements in some of the city this year, while Ann Arbor eliminated parking requirements throughout that city. Dallas and Richmond, Virginia are currently considering parking reform.

[Update: Additional coverage of Cambridge's parking reform is available behind the paywall at the Boston Globe.]

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 in The Crimson

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