After the Minimum Parking Requirement: Parking Reform in a Small University City

Srirang Sohoni, Bumsoo Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Problem, research strategy, and findings: Minimum parking requirements (MPRs) have been criticized for creating excess parking, degrading urban form, reducing housing affordability, and encouraging automobile dependency. As a result, many American cities have begun to reduce or remove parking minimums in some or all areas. However, existing research on the effects of these policy changes has focused only on the analysis of parking supply. We investigated the broader results of parking reform at a small university city in the Midwest that removed MPRs for downtown and university districts. Our quasi-experimental research found that onsite parking construction in the deregulated zones decreased dramatically, from 108% of the earlier requirement to only 46%, clearly indicating that MPRs had enforced oversupply of parking. Of the 43 new major developments built in the 7 years following the parking reform, 84% provided less parking than previous requirements, including eight developments with zero parking. The reduction in onsite parking led to more efficient use of existing parking stock, both public and private. Furthermore, the removal of MPRs, combined with other policies, helped improve urban form by increasing housing density, promoting active building frontages, and guiding a growing share of new developments to transit-rich and walkable districts. Takeaway for practice: American cities stand to benefit greatly by relaxing or repealing parking requirements. Cities that expect resistance to parking reforms can take a targeted and incremental approach, first removing MPRs in denser areas such as downtowns, transit corridors, and other prime districts where an oversupply of parking is typically being reinforced by uniform MPRs. The case of Champaign (IL) demonstrates that a targeted district-scale reform is likely to encounter minimal opposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the American Planning Association
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • minimum parking requirements
  • parking
  • parking reform
  • quasi-experimental research
  • urban development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Urban Studies

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