For good reason there has been a lot written recently about the influence of parking policy on good urban outcomes. Parking policy strongly affects trip generation, mode choice, urban form, and housing affordability. While parking reform may seem radical today in Auckland, it is already being widely implemented across North America. Here is a snapshot of what we might expect to see in Auckland if we remove minimum parking requirements and developers recognise the pent up of demand for urban living in transit-rich places.

In 2010 San Francisco removed their minimum parking requirements and imposed limits on the construction of new parking spaces in certain neighbourhoods. And today housing developments are being introduced that respond to the new rules reports

Parking-free development recently proposed in San Francisco. Image: Curbed SF, Stephan Antonaras

“The building at 1050 Valencia Street will be targeted toward residents seeking the kind of car-free lifestyle that’s increasingly popular in neighborhoods like the Mission District, which is short on housing but among the most walkable, bikeable, and transit-rich parts of San Francisco. The project will include no car parking and 28 bike parking spaces.”

In Portland the trend is even stronger with as many as 2/3 of all new development going without parking according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.  Developers are responding to the city’s desires to build more densely especially downtown and in transit-accessible neighbourhoods:

“Of 40 apartment building projects to be filled in the last year and a half, 25 offer no parking.”

Zero car parks but plenty of bike parking at the Irvington Gardens Apartments, image: Rob Manning OPB

The housing affordability advantage of building zero car parking is significant. This Portland article claims that the monthly rent in apartments without parking is $700/month compared to $1,200/month for conventional apartments with car parking.

Mixed use apartment building under development in Portland with 0 car parking (Photo by Sam Tenney/DJC)

These types of projects are not without controversy. In Portland nearby residents expressed concern that the apartments were compromising the sacred cow of on-street parking (entitled a bit?). Both city official and developers argue this is not the case and refer to research by Ellen Bassett, an associate professor in the Urban Studies and Planning program at Portland State University who determined that is was not the residents of the zero parking apartments who were clogging the streets, but rather, visitors from outside the neighbourhood arriving by car. Developer Dave Mullen with the Urban Development Group concurs with these findings and provides the money quote:

“There is a perception in the neighborhoods that the impact of these buildings to their ability to park is great. But most of the people that are leasing these new units don’t see parking as a problem because they don’t own cars.”

And finally, not to be outdone, the City of  Seattle has also recently been tweaking their parking policy to keep up.

I see zero parking housing as being popular to a small but increasing portion of the population in Auckland.   Who wouldn’t want to support the development of more affordable housing in neighbourhoods with good transport?

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  1. Definitely. There’s already thousands of apartments and older houses with no parking and they seem pretty damn popular. Parking minima delenda est!

  2. Are you crazy? If you start out building housing without parking all of Auckland will end up like those slums in ponsonby and Parnell!

  3. I’m sure parking minimums will soon becomes parking maximums, making it much easier for developers to provide residential dwellings without parking.

  4. I heard a rumour that even when you rent an apartment without parking the market will still provide it for you. I was a bit dubious about this claim so did some follow-up research; low and behold there are 48 car-parks in Auckland that are currently listed on TradeMe. It appears that the market is already delivering unbundled parking, so why do planners think they need to stick their finger in the parking pie?

    Let the market work it out and we’ll all be better off. Parking is not something we need more of …

    1. Example: my mother has sadly had to leave her Queen St apartment and we have let it out. The new tenant doesn’t want the carpark so we will be adding that to Trademe’s list of unbundled carparks for rent… right next to Britomart

      1. I know of several people who bought apartments in the Eden Terrace area where minimums exist and now have 2 carparks sitting unused and empty and unfortunately because of the oversupply of parking no one wants to rent them. So basically without even having a choice such people are being forced to pay for the construction of carparks but conversely have no space allocated for storing bikes, aside from using the oversized carparks.

    2. I agree, let the market decide, with one proviso: I support the present requirement for at least two off-street parks per house (not apartment). Now I realise this discussion is more about high-density dwellings, but in my street there are townhouses with such limited parking that the residents (not just visitors) crowd out the on-street parking. It’s partly a demographic thing – teenagers living at home, each with a car. In my case I have three under-cover parks and five more off-street (all on a 500m2 section) so I plead not guilty to this offence.

      I can also see why developers would be supportive as they can either provide more residential units on the site or avoid the significant cost of parking basements.

      Re Portland, older readers will recall the debacle (in the 80s?) when the city fathers decreed that light rail complete with adjoining apartments with zero parking was the way to go. These apartments remained empty and have probably been demolished by now. It’s not that the principle was necessarily wrong, but that the market wasn’t ready. So I’m pleased to see in the post that Portland is now doing better, at least as far as the residents are concerned.

      1. I agree we should get residents’ cars off the street to make room for visitors, but there’s other ways to do that without forcing everyone to fill their section with parking: such as to charge for long-term on-street parking. Make it free for the first four hours, then charge a couple of dollars for a coupon to park for the day. Similar to Coupon Parking in Wellington ( but it wouldn’t be free for residents.

    3. My apartment in Grafton comes with 2 car parks, and I have at times rented out one. I agree that it is nice that when my girlfriend (who needs a car for work trips) visits, she has a space in the basement. But if I had the choice, I certainly would have chosen an apartment with 1 car park, and would have been tempted to go with 0.

  5. Jonno1 requiring 2 off street parks typically results in the following:

    – a driveway apron where 1-2 cars could be parked on the street is privatised (moves from a public good to a private one)
    – incredible space loss for not only storage, but more significantly by moving the cars around on site
    – associated increase in costs
    – increasing risk to toddlers, etc

    Clearly we need to provide access to our most dominate transportation mode and this is what is required by “the market”, but I think to codeify such requirements is a poor way to design houses and neighbourhoods.

    1. Hi Kent – good to have a chat with you yesterday. Say, possibly Jonno1 was thinking of something I was thinking of myself – how to do servicing requirements at a zero-car park development. Doe these examples cited in this post still have loading zones for stuff like moving vans, garbage collection, servicing of any ground-floor commercial… or would one better try to do all that from the street?

      1. Whoops, I see that Jonno1 was talking about HOUSES, not about keeping a minimum of car parks for apartments. I could see some sense in requiring a minimum of 1 car park / house, but that just shows how compromised work in Auckland has made me 😉 But 2 car parks minimum? Why? It’s not like you buy / build without knowing what the facts are going to be. If you NEED NEED NEED 2 car parks, well that house with 1 or 0 car parks just isnt what you are going to buy…

  6. jonno so what if people park their cars on the street, what’s the big problem? And if someone really wants offstreet parking the market no doubt will supply it. I still can’t see any reason for the council to regulate for it in your example.

    1. To be fair, my street is a relatively narrow private one where parking is limited to one side to allow for emergency vehicle access etc, and where as a group of owners we prefer not to have teenager’s “bombs” parked on the street, but I’m in general agreement with removing the minimum requirement and letting the market decide.

      Trade vehicles is an interesting point – occasionally I’ve invited tradesmen working at a neighbour’s house to park in my driveway, as loading zones don’t cover that situation.

  7. To be fair there are large numbers of apartments being built in Central Auckland with no parking at all, so it’s not that it’s not taking place here. Rather for better quality developments to be taking place outside of the CBD we need to remove the minimums, and we already have an example in Auckland showing that the world won’t collapse.

      1. I’m not sure about under-construction apartments but there are definitely heaps of completed one’s with out parking. For example the Saint Pauls apartments (next door to the subway by uni) where my girl friend lived for a while: 73 apartments + one retail unit (cafe) and no parking garage. Even in buildings with parking garages there is typically less than one car park per apartment. Do a trade me search for CBD apartments to lease at the cheaper end of the scale and see how few have parking included.

    1. BBC, that is because Central Auckland is an area that already HAS DISPENSED with minimums (and in fact has comparatively strict MAXIMUMS). So your comment supports the claim of this post… though the other (parking-unrelated) issues with Auckland Central apartments have given the whole process a bad name…

  8. To be honest most residential streets in central Auckland seem to have quite a lot of on street parking already so I can’t see removing minimums making much difference to the street environment.

    1. Especially since each new driveway generally removes an existing on-street parking space, because of the need to keep the entrance clear.

      1. There are some ridiculous wide curb cuts on my street. on my street. One is a little wider the width of a triple garage. Probably wider than the street – the garage is set back so its not essential for access. I think a cerb cut rate per meter should be a component of rates as it essentially occupies that section of the street preventing public uses such as street trees or public parking.

        For example here Wilson’s parking has occupied a whole strip of cerb space reducing the number of street parks by 4 to 5 with a significant value to the council (i think this area is metered a $4 an hour during weekdays) in order to fit a couple more parks on its site to make more private income.

        1. My neighbours have a curb cut and driveway crossing the grass verge that just stops dead in a retaining wall at the property line. They park in the driveway, and across the footpath, which gives them the nice (if illegal) trick of having off-street parking without needing to use any of their own property.

          That Wilson’s carpark is horrible. I used to walk across Short St right there to get to work, and the huge splayed corner means that in the time it takes to walk across, a car can come across the crest of Shortland St and barrel around the corner without indicating at 60kph, squishing you in the process. Meanwhile, cars are busy going in and out of the carpark in all sorts of bizarre directions, confusing the pedestrians who have no idea whether it’s safe to cross.

          If there was on-street parking on that side, and some curb extensions with a less rounded corner, it would be a lot nicer to cross. But of course, this is Auckland, and nothing may be done to even slightly inconvenience or delay His Royal Majesty the Motorist.

        2. We have a 15 metre wide keen cut opposite our house. It is wider than many RIVERS and services ONE house.

          This, I assume, ensures they can back five cars out at once.

          In Grey Lynn we are faced with the threat of having to buy permits for resident parking (with no guarantee of a space natch!).

          Common sense, a measuring tape and white paint would create six extra spaces just on my block.

          Wonder if AT still reads this blog?

        3. Another example – I used to occasionally park in the slot behind the station wagon in the pic when it was kerbed. One day the kerb disappeared, replaced by the concrete ramp, legally or illegally I have no idea. Note that the property had a double kerb crossing already but the then-owner obviously wanted a triple! This was a few years ago so not necessarily the current owner.

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