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San Diego Planning Commission Approves ‘Transit Priority’ Parking Reforms

San Diego’s Planning Commission approved new rules to relax parking requirements near transit. Photo: Circulate San Diego

Last night, the San Diego City Planning Commission unanimously approved new rules that would eliminate parking requirements in "transit priority areas" within a half-mile of major public transit stops.

KPBS reports that:

Planning commissioners largely praised the proposal as a means to increase the housing supply, which experts say is key to addressing the region's affordability crisis, and also encourage residents to forgo car ownership in favor of biking, walking and riding public transit. [...]

City staff said parking requirements can cost developers between $35,000 and $90,000 per space, depending on whether the parking has to go underground, and that those costs are ultimately passed on to renters and home buyers. The proposal also requires developers and landlords to offer incentives for alternative transportation, such as public transit subsidies, bike repair stations or cars that can be shared by residents.

When developers voluntarily include parking spaces in their projects near transit, residents in most cases would have to rent or purchase their parking space separately from their home. That policy, called "unbundled parking," is meant to decouple the hidden costs of otherwise free parking and allow residents to save money if they choose not to own a car.

The new regulations are expected to go before the San Diego City Council this month.

The new regulations would not mean that there would be no parking at all in these areas. It would only mean that the city would not require parking - and that developers would determine the appropriate amount of parking on a project-specific basis.

The new regulations would complement last October's Metropolitan Transportation System board approval of a new joint development program that set the stage for conversion of excess parking lots to housing. In a 2018 analysis, the nonprofit Circulate San Diego estimated that San Diego's underutilized park-and-ride lots could house 8,000 families.

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