Why Parking Reform Goes Hand in Hand With More Housing

To achieve the full benefits of ‘missing middle housing’ and make way for small-lot construction, cities must rethink parking mandates.

1 minute read

March 27, 2024, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


ROwn of grey and white townhomes with gabled roofs and front porches.

Roman / Adobe Stock

In a piece for Sightline, Catie Gould outlines how parking reform can unlock the benefits of missing middle housing and create more affordable housing.

According to Gould, parking mandates that require one to two spots per residential units are a problem “because between small lot sizes or navigating around an existing house, even one more parking spot is a bar that many middle housing projects just can’t clear.”

To make middle housing a truly viable form of housing, “cities need to free these future homes from the tangle of regulations governing parking spaces.” Because parking takes up so much space, requirements have an outsized impact on small lot developments. As Dan Parolek, who coined the term ‘missing middle housing,’ explains, “To make way for four parking spots, a future fourplex would need a parcel of land twice as large as the same fourplex without any off-street parking.” Meanwhile, creating a new parking spot with ingress and egress around an existing home can be impossible.

As Gould notes, recent legislation and zoning reform encouraging middle housing production will only make an impact if parking flexibility is part of the package. Otherwise, ‘outdated’ parking requirements will undermine the ability to build more homes on small lots.

Monday, March 18, 2024 in Sightline

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