State Senator Takes on Parking Requirements

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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.
  • While this is a great idea, San Francisco does not need to wait for the state to mandate such a system. SF should abolish all parking minimums right now. Forcing developers to construct off-street parking substantially increases the cost of housing, and as we know, adding off-street parking does not increase overall parking supply.

  • I was going to make exactly the same comment that Greg made above. Don’t wait for the state to mandate it. Individual cities can take the lead by doing it themselves.

    We have to expect that some progressive individual cities will be quicker to do these things than the state as a whole.

    However, in “progressive” Berkeley, the NIMBYs would go insane if someone introduced a bill eliminating the minimum parking requirement (those who are not insane already).

  • But where will they park their Priuseseses (or Prii?)

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