Let the City Council know your opinion: Does parking matter to you?
While a number of cities have taken steps to improve the efficiency of land utilization by reducing or eliminating minimum parking requirements, only three have been found that have opted for total elimination citywide – all have extensive transit systems and a history of surplus parking.
Most cities have used the elimination of parking minimums as one of several methods employed, based on documented local conditions. When cities have decided to remove all off-street parking requirements, it has almost always been done in downtown cores and in areas with frequent public transit.
Beginning with analyses published online at ParkingPolicy.com and StrongTowns.org – both proponents of parking reform – and updated with original research on the various cities’ web sites, the following table lists 20 examples of cities that have reduced or eliminated minimum parking requirements. The fifteen with the city name in bold have focused changes on downtowns and transit corridors. The six in italics have changed requirements for residential properties.
|Portland, OR||Eliminated minimum parking requirements within 500 feet of a transit line with a certain service frequency.|
|Eugene, OR||Eliminated minimum parking requirements in downtown.|
|Ashland, OR||No parking minimums in downtown zone.|
|Tigard, OR||No parking minimum in the Tigard Triangle, a 550-acre mixed-use zone slated for light rail service. Parking reductions and on-street parking credits apply to residential zones.|
|Seattle, WA||Eliminated minimum parking requirements in downtown and for affordable housing units (up to 80% AMI). Reduced standards in certain areas with frequent transit service and for certain types of developments, such as for seniors. Allows for shared parking arrangements in certain circumstances. Requires the unbundling of parking in leases for new development, so renters only pay for spaces they use.|
|Tacoma, WA||Eliminated minimum parking requirements throughout the downtown core.|
|Olympia, WA||No parking minimums within the Downtown Exempt Parking Area for new residential projects and new commercial construction or expansion over 3,000 square feet.|
|Yakima, WA||No minimum parking requirements for commercial properties in the downtown business district.|
|Bozeman, MT||Eliminated minimum parking requirements in the Midtown Urban Renewal District. Set maximums in commercial areas.|
|San Francisco, CA||Eliminated minimum parking requirements and implemented car-sharing, secure bicycle parking, and unbundling policies.|
|Sacramento, CA||No minimum parking requirements for the Central Business District, the Arts & Entertainment District, and commercial projects smaller than 6,400 square feet in the Central City. Other requirements based on neighborhood context, access to alternative transportation modes, and existing parking supplies in the area. Projects with certified transportation management plans can reduce parking by 35%.|
|Minneapolis, MN||Removed minimums in the downtown area and replaced with maximums (required accessible and visitor spaces not counted in maximums). Reduced minimums for all other residential uses to 1 space per dwelling unit (except no additional spaces required for ADUs).|
|Milwaukee, WI||No off-street parking required in downtown zoning districts and some redevelopment districts. No off-street spaces required for single- and two-family residences; maximum of 4 spaces.|
|Champaign, IL||Eliminated parking requirements for multi-family dwellings in the University District, which has excellent transit service and cycling and sidewalk infrastructure, and where most residents attend the nearby university. (Parking vacancy rates of 20–40% had been reported at apartment building parking lots.)|
|Nashville, TN||Eliminated minimum parking requirements within the 600-acre downtown core.|
|Cincinnati, OH||Reduced and eliminated parking minimum requirements in the central business district.|
|Buffalo, NY||Eliminated minimum parking requirements in 2017. Over the next two years, 36 developments built 21% fewer spaces than under the old requirements. Of these, 14 mixed-use projects built 53% fewer spaces, relying instead on shared parking agreements, while 19 single-use projects built more parking than would have been required, including 14 residential projects that built 17% more spaces and 4 commercial projects that built 64% more spaces than under the old rules.|
|New York, NY||Eliminated minimum parking requirements for affordable units in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn.|
|Washington, DC||Eliminated minimum parking requirements in high-density downtown areas and reduced parking requirements in transit-rich areas outside of downtown.|
|Edmonton, AB||Eliminated minimum parking requirements. Set maximums for downtown, transit-oriented projects, and main street areas. Allowed for shared parking. Increased bicycle parking requirements. Accessible parking required at existing rates.|
Parking Requirements & Unbundling at: <https://parkingpolicy.com/reduced-requirements/>.
Progress on Parking Minimum Removals Across the Country at: <https://www.strongtowns.org/parking>.
Original research on the web sites of the cities listed.
The Council will hold a work session on April 21, 2021 at 5:00 PM to consider a request by a councilor to explore reducing to zero the minimum number of parking spaces required for new developments.
A new state law (H.B. 2001) requires that every Oregon city amend its development code to permit the construction of “middle housing” — duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, townhomes, and cottage clusters — wherever detached single family homes are allowed. Bend’s staff is working on code amendments needed to comply with the law. One proposed change would eliminate the existing requirement for the minimum number of off-street parking spaces for duplexes and triplexes and significantly reduce the requirement for quads. The proposal is controversial, even among members of the stakeholder advisory group working with the staff on the code changes.
Councilor Melanie Kebler wants to go further and eliminate minimum off-street parking requirements for all developments. She argues that parking uses up space that could be devoted to more housing and that households without cars unfairly subsidize those with cars by having to pay for parking spaces they don’t need. She points to low income households, people with disabilities, and the elderly as among those prevented from accessing more affordable housing because they can’t find dwelling units without parking.
Off-street parking requirements have been eliminated in a few larger cities, generally in limited areas, such as those near public transit or downtown cores. Advocates make several claims about the rationale for the change, while critics counter with arguments against this experimental policy. (See list of Pros & Cons.)
A study group of Bend neighborhood association land use chairs investigated both sides of the issue. They looked to cities that have reduced parking minimums for evidence documenting positive impacts on parking and on housing affordability and availability, but couldn’t find any actual data. At this stage, the movement to change city policies appears to be based on claims, rather than evidence.
What they did find was evidence that reduced parking minimums increase the value of vacant land, which resulted in higher, not lower, housing prices. And, a parking assessment conducted for the City of Bend in 2017 concluded that cities that had eliminated parking minimums, “subsequently experienced developments that under-built parking to such a degree that parking capacity in neighborhoods and/or commercial districts became an issue.”
Resources reviewed by the study group and other information about parking standards can be found at DoesParkingMatter.com/background.
The City of Bend has made reductions in parking requirements since 2006. Policy #39 in the Transportation System Plan adopted in 2020 calls for adjusting parking standards using a data-driven approach based on changes in behavior and parking demand over time. This approach is generally referred to as “right-sizing parking”. Both the State of Oregon and the City of Bend adopted this approach to balance supply and demand and avoid wasting land on unneeded parking spaces.
In the upcoming Council work session, staff will present information on the topic and the councilors can discuss it and direct the staff about possible next steps, such as drafting amendments to the Bend Development Code, which is where parking standards are set. The work session on parking requirements will be prior to the regular Council meeting on April 21st, starting at 5:00 PM. While open to the public, work sessions do not allow for pubic comments. Written comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have an opinion on how the Council should approach this issue, please let them know. And, please complete the online community survey on parking requirements.