Updating parking regulations is an essential part of TOD planning. Parking regulations should reflect transit service and expected changes in market demand and how people travel. Parking requirements should not discourage development geared toward households that are more likely to use transit, walk, or bicycle.
Lower Parking Minimums
Parking requirements can discourage development of low- or moderate-income housing. It can also raise the cost of all housing. One approach is to reduce parking requirements as much as possible, letting the market decide how much parking is needed. In many cases, investors will require a certain amount of parking for a project. Some developers and investors, however, are becoming more familiar with the value of transit and TOD. For developers, lower parking requirements could reduce development costs and increase the feasibility of development. Cities can encourage developers to provide less parking, but they can also require that developers provide evidence of the amount of parking needed.
In areas with the highest levels of transit service, cities should consider placing a cap on the amount of parking for a new development. One question for TOD is whether new households will value transit as an amenity, but will not make transit part of their daily routine. These households may be able to afford multiple off-street parking spaces. Placing caps on the amount of residential parking (e.g., a net of 1.25 spaces per unit) can help reserve the supply of residential land for households that are more likely to walk, bicycle, or use transit on a regular basis.
Shared and Unbundled Parking
Shared parking and unbundled parking are two approaches to increase the efficient use of off-street parking. Different uses with different peak periods of demand (e.g., daytime office and nighttime venue) can share parking. “Unbundled parking” means that parking is purchased or rented separately. Households or employees may opt in to parking by paying a fee, or opt out of parking and save money. Shared or unbundled parking increases complexity, but uses land more efficiently.
People who currently live in TOD areas may be concerned about parking spilling onto neighborhood streets. Communication among planners, developers, and neighbors can help ease concerns. If a project is marketed to people who may be attracted to nearby transit, neighbors may be less concerned about parking. Cities can also use tools that minimize or mitigate the impact of additional on-street parking. These include parking restrictions and residential permit parking programs.
We Can Help!
Lucy Galbraith, Director
Metro Transit – TOD Office