This should be an obvious point, but unfortunately it doesn’t compute for many people. Bundling parking with housing makes the housing more expensive:
According to Victoria Transport Policy Institute, individual parking spaces add anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000 to the cost of a development, and city council believes that by eliminating those mandates that they will make the center city an even more attractive place for private investment.
That is why Cincinatti has eliminated parking minimums in Center City, and will later eliminate them in the neighborhoods.
Pennsylvania’s cities should follow suit. In Philadelphia, we have an ongoing conversation about closing the gap between the rents Philadelphians can afford to pay, and the rents developers need to charge to profitably build.
Getting rid of parking minimums citywide is one obvious way to help close that gap.
Imagine a 40-unit apartment building proposed for an RM-1 zone. After the first 3 units, the city requires the developer to build 3 underground parking spaces for every 10 units. In this case that would mean 12 underground parking spaces. Since underground parking is the most expensive, let’s assume the higher end of VTPI’s finding: the spaces cost $25,000 each. The parking requirements add $300,000 to the cost of this project.
Obviously that’s going to make rents higher for this building. But another thing it’s going to do is lead developers to propose buildings with fewer housing units in them. If the cost of building each housing unit were lower, because no parking was required, then they would build more housing units and those units would rent for cheaper.
Considering that the rate of growth in car ownership in Philly is negative, it really doesn’t make any sense to require developers to bundle parking spaces with new apartment units.
Philly’s new zoning code seems to be working fairly well in terms of process one year out, but in terms of content, the continued existence of statutory parking minimums in a walkable city with a great transit network and deep poverty is utter nonsense, and should be at the top of City Council’s list of reforms.
(via Randy Simes)