Can Reduced Parking Requirements Generate Too Much Development Competition?

A new argument has appeared in the ongoing debate about parking requirements. A university in a college town objected to reduced parking requirements on the grounds that it would make the city too attractive to developers.
September 30, 2015, 6am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Eric Jaffe provides a dispatch from the parking wars—this time in the college town of Champaign, Illinois, which recently debated relaxed parking requirements for residential development. Supporting the case for reducing parking requirements in the city were the usual arguments about lower housing costs and reduced auto dependence.

Opposing the parking reductions, however, were not the typical arguments about increased traffic and strain on public parking spaces. Jaffe explains:

"Instead, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 'respectfully opposed' the measure on the grounds that sites around town would suddenly become more attractive to private developers. Such sites—current parking lots the clearest example—would never pencil out into profitable building projects under the old rules, but became instantly viable without parking requirements. That bothered the university, which hoped to buy the sites on the cheap as the campus expanded."

Jaffe summarizes that argument by saying that the university is basically objecting on the basis that reduced parking requirements would make the city too nice. But looking at it from the university's point of view, new development potential for lots around campus conflicts with the university's master plan for expansion.

The article provides more details about exactly how Champaign's new parking policy would work, calling on Ben LeRoy of the Champaign planning department to describe the goals of the policy and the early positive response from the development community. LeRoy also tells Jaffe about how the city plans to work with the university to achieve their mutual goals in the future.

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Published on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 in CityLab
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