New Bill in Congress Could Eliminate Parking Minimums, Allowing More Housing

Similar laws have revitalized small towns and big cities across the nation.
Parking spaces in Eustis, Florida
Getty Images

Congress has introduced a bill that could waive laws requiring a minimum number of parking spaces in many parts of the country. The bill is modeled after similar effective measures in small towns and major cities.

On Tuesday, Representative Robert Garcia (D-CA) introduced the Homes for People Not Cars Act of 2023 that would scrap parking requirements within a half-mile of “covered public transit” stops. Instead, the property owner would have “sole discretion” over how many parking spots would be included on the premises of new or redeveloped “residential, retail, commercial, or industrial” buildings. The bill would override any parking ordinances at the city or state level.

“We’re obviously in a housing crisis in California and across the country. One of the largest barriers to developing housing is parking requirements,” Garcia said, according to Reason, and added that the bill would “allow the market to dictate how much parking” to build.

Cars parked at an airport in Bloomington, Minnesota in 2018. Timothy A. Clary via Getty Images

The bill could federalize a measure that has reportedly been passed in more than 200 cities around the country, revitalizing downtowns and increasing housing supplies. After eliminating minimums, city planners in Minneapolis have reportedly observed an increase in small apartment developments.

The American Planning Association supports reducing or eliminating parking minimums, noting the high cost of constructing parking spaces, at up to $50,000 apiece. Academic studies have also noted an increase in housing development in large cities that cut parking minimums, with Buffalo, New York, and Seattle seeing more mixed-use development. Since its parking reforms, San Diego has also received a fivefold increase in affordable housing proposals.

Benefits aren’t exclusive to major metro areas, either. The organization also noted successful implementation in small towns like Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Sandpoint, Idaho, where cutting parking minimums brought disused historic buildings back to life. Parking maximums are also sometimes implemented, but reformed minimums are the more widely implemented measure.

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