San Diego Will No Longer Require Parking at New Housing Near Transit

In a sign that maybe San Diego leaders are beginning to understand that the status quo isn’t going to solve the city’s congestion and transportation problems, the City Council approved new rules that eliminate parking requirements for new housing in areas close to public transit. The new rules will also reduce parking requirements in downtown to equal one space per unit rather than one space per bedroom.

Note that this does not mean new housing developments cannot build parking. It just eliminates the requirement that they build a certain number of parking spaces per unit.

The council approved the measure on an 8-1 vote.

It’s been hard for officials in many cities to grasp this Shoupian concept that providing “free” parking not only encourages more driving, it drives up the cost of housing for everyone, even those who don’t drive.

Carter Rubin* at NRDC points out some stats (emphasis added):

A city report estimates that the city’s parking requirements add from $40,000 to $90,000 to the cost of a housing unit, which translates into thousands more a year in rent and mortgage payments.

But over half of San Diego renter households have either no car or one car. Renters shouldn’t be forced to pay this extra cost.

Also, writes Rubin, “There are sometimes concerns that getting rid of these required minimums might lead to more cars hunting for street parking.”

The data indicate otherwise: city requirements force the overbuilding of expensive parking. The city surveyed over 30 locations in transit priority areas, and found that nine out of ten of the sites had fewer occupied spaces than are currently required, and downtown the parking occupancy rate was less than one car per unit, as many people don’t own cars there at all.

This is in keeping with data collected in the Bay Area by TransForm as part of its GreenTrip program. That project has found that across the housing sites it surveyed, about a third of the parking spaces go unused.

This will also make it a little bit easier to add more housing where it’s needed–near transit–and is consistent with a recent move by the San Diego Transit Board to replace some of the unused parking at its stations with housing.

Go, San Diego!

* Carter Rubin is a board member of the California Streets Initiative, the nonprofit that publishes Streetsblog California

18 thoughts on San Diego Will No Longer Require Parking at New Housing Near Transit

  1. Basically you are saying others must pay for your right to drive a car? How about YOU pay for YOUR parking and those without cars do not have to pay for parking.

  2. Nonsense. People that can afford cars in San diego have cars. Where they live. They’ll just pay for lots or take up street parking. This isn’t New York City oe Chicago or San Francisco that are very walkable or have excellent public transit. Electric scooters can’t guy in freeways and most don’t ride big motorcycles.

  3. For the sake of squeezing people, increasing developer profits, etc with relatively little regard to dwelling design.

  4. But when virtually everything being built during the last several decades or so have such sort of design quirks?

    So many design details appear to go beyond greater land squeeze with design details designed to preclude upgrade-ability- aka Mrs Blander’s wall modifications for greater apartment space.

    The sort of houses that I refer to above with the overly short
    driveways could have been designed at bit differently, and as so
    provided greater space utilization and even relocating the main garage to the rear rather than have such dominate the front of the house.

    Do groups as “Strong Towns” shave anything to say about space efficiency, such as how spending relatively smaller extra sums now would lead to greater future efficiency with better utilization of space?

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  6. No one is forced to buy these properties.

    Your complaints seem to have their root in failures of the economics of the ex-urbs. Soviet Style Gov’t Edicts (ie zoning) won’t solve the fundamental socialist failures of the ex-urbs.

    Read a bit of this website – its called StrongTowns and explores why the ex-urbs are a negative economic proposition.

  7. Really?

    During the early 1900s we had many suburbs built with sidewalks, streets with rail transit, and yes, ample property space for parking automobiles, carriages.

    Now they have zoning allowing building houses with far less space between them, including places as within Texas and California. Just compare housing developments built in the past 20 years to those built before 1980 or 1970. And lets not forget the sort of cheap developer design tricks as driveways barely long enough for a single car length that people damage their garage doors to try avoiding parking tickets for their vehicle impinging upon a sidewalk, and of course poor space utilization of sloped embankments rather than covered garages to the rear.

    Leaving people with some better than now advocated space means more flexibility. Don’t have enough cars to fill all your spaces? Rent some out. Or use them for storage.

    Or just make everything ala carte, as a corporate lobby behind the vast boom in self storage facilities would likely have it. Squeeze out the average Joe, so there is less money for human activities as hobbys, and take away that utility when it would be cheapest for the homebuyer, but more expensive to add labor with the various design tricks designed to further squeeze people for the sake of greater developer profits.

    So thus squeeze people or encourage them to have way longer commutes ala Mr. Blander’s Dream House.

  8. Doug,

    If the market wants more parking, then developers will add more parking into their projects.

    That’s why it’s called a free market

  9. Which “lord”?

    Giving people less for their money, while increasing profit for developers and extra property taxation while choking other choice at the detriment of countless business- asides from self storage facilities.

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  12. The Council voting to make their city less car-reliant is good news. However, it is sad that San Diego voters elected the indicted Duncan Hunter knowing full well he is accused of wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations, and conspiracy. On environmental issues, Hunter has a 2% (out of 100%) lifetime voting score from the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental group. Hunter does not believe climate change is caused by humans, and believes it may actually be positive. Hunter does not believe the EPA should be allowed to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and has consistently voted against any governmental limits to CO2 pollution. He would like to open up oil drilling in the United States in order to bring down gas prices. The City Council should work to make sure he pulls out of his ‘space’ soon.

  13. “…The new parking requirements — if approved on second reading — will apply to developments in “transit priority areas,” which the San Diego Association of Governments defines as sitting within one half-mile of a current or planned transit stop. The city defines a planned transit stop as one funded and scheduled to be completed within five years.

    Developers are now cleared to build housing developments in transit priority areas within and outside of downtown with zero parking spaces. For downtown housing developments, accompanying parking spaces will be capped at one per unit….”

    Praise be the Lord

  14. I wish they would do the same with public eateries.
    It’s harder and harder to find parking every time.

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