Parking requirements typically drive up construction costs as each space can add $35,000 to $90,000 per unit to a project’s budget. Eliminating those requirements in Transit Priority Areas (TPA) – within a half mile of a major transit stop – significantly reduces costs and allows builders to construct more units.
Under the new parking plan, multifamily projects can be built with as little as zero parking spaces in TPAs through the city – a move that aligns with the City’s landmark Climate Action Plan’s goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by further reducing vehicle trips. Builders can still include parking as part of their projects but can scale back the number of spaces or eliminate them altogether based on market demand.
Currently, the City requires builders to provide a minimum number of parking spaces for each dwelling unit built, regardless of the location of the multifamily residential development. This requirement can range from providing a single parking space for a studio apartment to two spaces for a unit with three or more bedrooms.
Housing developments in transit priority areas will also be required to offer a variety of transportation amenities available to residents, including:
Secure bicycle storage or repair stations to maintain bikes for everyday use;
Onsite bike, car, or small electric vehicle share programs for when a vehicle is needed;
Storage or locker facilities to ensure delivery items can be safely stored until they can be retrieved;
Transit passes to attract residents who want to live more sustainably and with more mobility options;
Healthy food retail and day care facilities, for those residential projects seeking to incorporate onsite lifestyle conveniences.
“It is important that the City continues to develop creative ways to make housing at all levels in San Diego more affordable,” said City Councilmember Scott Sherman. “The mayor’s proposed parking requirement reforms are a game changer. They will make construction less expensive, provide opportunities for more units to be built and, ultimately and most important, will reduce the cost for the people living in them.”
The cost and space savings could be substantial for renters and new homeowners. With the rapid rise of ride share and micro-mobility options such as dockless scooters and bicycles, the City is anticipating residents will increasingly rely less on automobiles to get around. This proposal will allow individuals to make a choice that can reduce costs.
“Circulate San Diego is pleased to see the Faulconer administration taking leadership on citywide parking reform,” said Colin Parent, executive director and general counsel for Circulate San Diego. “Updating parking rules will allow more people to live and work near transit, which is key to our climate and affordability goals.”
The mayor’s proposal could result in a cost savings of at least $35,000 per parking space that would no longer be required under this market-based reduced parking requirement. In addition, builders can include more units in a project by utilizing the space saved by not having to build an underground parking garage or similar parking accommodations. This will help to increase the overall housing supply in the region and achieve the City’s goal of housing for all.
Other cities that have implemented programs to eliminate parking requirements in transit areas, including Seattle, have seen success at increasing the housing supply and a reduction in vehicle ownership. As a result, Seattle has expanded its program to other areas in the city.
The mayor expects to bring the TPA parking plan to the Smart Growth and Land Use committee in early 2019.
“We need to create more housing affordability for San Diego’s working families and this will be a big step in that direction,” Faulconer said. “We know that more and more people are choosing to live without a car and are demanding quality housing near transit. This plan gives builders the freedom to be smart and creative with their projects, while contributing to our housing supply and our climate action goals by getting more cars off the road.”