The US is Trying to Make its Cities Walkable by Scrapping Parking Minimums2 min read
An increasing number of US towns and states are looking to scrap parking minimums, alleging they damage communities and exacerbate the climate catastrophe.
In January 2023, California will become the first state to scrap parking minimums in areas with public transportation, a move that governor Gavin Newsom dubbed a “win-win” for cutting planet-heating car emissions and aiding a state that has trailed in building new homes.
Oregon’s eight major metropolitan areas—48 cities—will also be getting “climate-friendly and equitable communities” laws in January. The city will no longer demand parking for affordable new housing, small apartments, and developments near rail or bus services.
Anchorage, Nashville, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Cambridge have also relaxed or eliminated parking lot requirements for developers. “These parking minimums have helped kill cities,” said Columbia Business School climate economist Gernot Wagner, who accused politicians of turning downtowns into bomb-hit areas by flooding them with parking spaces.
Climate campaigners and public transport advocates have taken up the previously obscure issue of parking minimums, posting aerial photos on social media showing the huge tracts of prime urban conceded to parking lots. They have encouraged city councils to create denser communities with more opportunities to walk, cycle, and take buses and trains instead of driving.
Cities like Fayetteville and Buffalo resorted to reducing or even scrapping parking minimums several years back and saw a boom in turning abandoned buildings into stores, residences, and restaurants. Due to the need to build car parking spaces significantly larger than the buildings themselves, developers previously considered such work unviable.
According to UCLA urban planning professor Donald Shoup, many people have realized that parking minimums and housing maximums mean we have too many automobiles and too little houses.
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