Austin, Texas is officially getting rid of its minimum parking requirements.
Developers won't be required to build a certain number of parking spots for new buildings.
The move is expected to decrease home prices and rents, as construction costs fall.
One of the biggest cities in one of the most car-dependent states in the country is cracking down on parking to deal with its housing affordability crisis.
Austin, Texas is getting rid of requirements that new construction — from single-family homes to shopping malls — build parking spots. The City Council voted eight to two last Thursday to eliminate its so-called "parking minimums," which mandate at least two parking spots for every single-family home and one-and-a-half spots for every one-bedroom apartment, with an additional half-spot for each extra bedroom.
The regulatory change won't eliminate existing parking or stop developers from building parking, it will just end a mandate that they build a certain number of spots. Regulations concerning parking for residents with disabilities will stay in place.
Housing advocates, urban planners, and environmental activists have long pushed to end parking requirements, as they elevate construction costs, inflate rents and home prices, and waste valuable space. The more parking there is, the less walkable, bikeable, and transit-friendly a city is, making it harder to cut transportation-related emissions.
In Austin, city officials say it costs developers between $5,000 and $60,000 to build a single parking space. And this construction ends up costing tenants about $200 a month in extra rent.
The move is part of Austin's broader effort to reform its zoning and other land-use regulations to get the skyrocketing cost of housing under control in the in-demand city.
Getting rid of parking requirements makes housing cheaper. The Rutgers Center for Real Estate found that New Jersey residents would save an average of more than $1,000 per year on rent if the state relaxed its required parking count. These savings would be even higher if parking minimums are abolished entirely.
Opponents argue that reducing off-street parking puts pressure on existing parking and worsens traffic.
A few large cities across the country, including Portland, Minneapolis, and San Jose, have already gotten rid of parking minimums. A slew of other cities and states are making moves in the same direction. As part of his major zoning reform proposal, New York City Mayor Eric Adams is pushing to get rid of parking minimums for new residential buildings citywide. In New York City, a single parking spot costs up to $150,000 to build, according to a report by the pro-housing group Open Plans.
There's also been some interest in Congress to do something about parking. In May, Rep. Robert Garcia, a freshman California Democrat, introduced legislation banning minimum requirements for parking spaces near transit hubs.
"We know that parking raises the cost of housing immensely," Garcia told Insider earlier this year. "We need to create cities and communities that are more walkable, that are more multimodal friendly."
The US has long prioritized parking — and built an astounding amount of it. There are an estimated three parking spots for every car in the country, according to Donald Shoup, a leading parking expert and professor of Urban Planning at UCLA.
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