State Senator Takes on Parking Requirements

Last week, State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) introduced legislation that takes aim at how California's municipalities think about parking and parking requirements.  What SB 518 (PDF) is missing in co-sponsors it makes up for in chutzpah.  If enacted, the legislation would require that every municipality in the state earn at least "20 points" in parking reforms.  These reforms range from eliminating a city's parking requirement for development, which is worth 20 points to requiring that employers offer transit passes en lieu of parking worth only 2 points.

In Los Angeles, the bill would have an amazing impact on transportation planning if it were to become law.  Immediately the city would be forced to think of building transit-oriented development without the minimum two car spaces for every residential unit, or setting aside part of its parking fees for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. 

However, getting this legislation passed and signed is going to be a heavy lift.  Despite the many positive impacts that parking reform would have for the transportation network and environment by reducing V.M.T., there are bound to be a lot of pro-automobile forces pushing back against the legislation and so far there has been almost sign of a campaign promoting it.  As a matter of fact, the only place I found this legislation mentioned was Infosnack, a blog originating out of Washington, D.C.  In other words, seeing this legislation passed into law may be a heavy lift; but then most things worth doing are.

Highlights of the point system include (and clearly someone has been reading Don Shoup):

  • 20 points - Eliminate minimum parking requirements citywide or within the unincorporated county
  • 10 points - Eliminate minimum parking requirements for projects in transit intensive areas.
  • 10 points - Adopt an ordinance to set on-street parking meter and public parking lot and garage rates to achieve an 85% target occupancy rate during hours when adjacent businesses are open or employ demand-responsive rates that vary throughout the day to achieve an 85% target occupancy rate.
  • 10 points - Remove or increase allowable density limits and floor area ratios (FAR), allowing infill development on existing parking lots.