From the Wall Street Journal: More Developers Kick Parking Lots to the Curb

Bad news for car owners: Developers in more U.S. cities are reducing the amount of parking spaces included in new projects as local authorities seek to encourage the use of mass transit and free up space for parks, housing or other uses.

In San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood, architecture and development company Jonathan Segal FAIA ruffled feathers of nearby residents after it revealed plans to build an eight-story, 35-unit apartment complex with no parking spaces. Without the added costs of a garage, the studio units of around 400 square feet apiece would be more affordable, the firm said.


“It’s the future. There’s a strong demand for people who want to rent units that are efficient,” said developer Jonathan Segal, noting that digging underground parking lots for the building would drive up costs and take away space that could be used for more housing.

Each car takes up about 350 square feet of parking space, including access lanes, he said. Without these costs, he estimates rents will be $1,300 to $1,500 a month, barely half that of comparable apartments nearby. …

Researchers in Miami and Los Angeles have found the reduction of parking requirements lowered construction costs significantly and spurred development of homes in areas previously deemed unprofitable. Earlier parking requirements had compelled developers to build fewer units than the total permitted because it was too expensive to build the required parking spaces. …

Even so, developers looking to build fewer parking lots often face pushback from the incumbent residents who fear heightened competition for on-street parking when residents who own cars move in.

And in some cities, the deep-rooted habits of residents are still a big influence on parking. Developer D4 Urban LLC successfully leased mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments adjacent to a rail stop in Denver with a 1:1 ratio of parking space to unit, but noted that post-occupancy surveys show that residents still want ample parking spaces.

“While there is a menu of options for residents—Uber, light rail, bicycle—people still endeavor to own a car to get to the mountains,” said Chris Waggett, chief executive of D4 Urban, adding that future projects with bigger apartments will revert to the more-typical 1:1 parking space to bedroom ratio.

“There is an emotive connection to the car that residents have, but it’s different when you talk to commercial tenants. Commercial-property owners are far more willing to reduce their ratios,” Mr. Waggett said.