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 SF.Streetsblog.org.
“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.”
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.
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?