Mpls. hailed as model for ending parking requirement

Minneapolis is getting big points from Vox for its decision to end the requirement that off-street parking spaces be built for each unit in an apartment building.

Joseph Stromberg writes that it’s not the perfect plan but it’s a step in the right direction to make housing more affordable and ease traffic problems. He says it should serve as a road map for other cities.

He notes that if would-be tenants are clamoring for parking, there’s nothing preventing a developer from providing it, but building a parking space can cost tens of thousands of dollars and there’s nothing free about it; it gets tacked onto the rent.

“The worst thing that many American cities have done, for low-income people, is create a world in which you need a car,” retired UCLA economist Donald Shoup told me in an interview last year. “Parking pushes everything farther apart, and even if you’re too poor to own a car, you have to pay for all the free parking you don’t use.”

There’s also some evidence that free parking makes people more likely to drive, increasing traffic. One study found that people who live in residences in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx that have minimum parking requirements are significantly more likely to drive to work in Manhattan (compared with others who live and work in the same areas).

And, Stromberg contends, parking spaces take up real estate that could generate taxes.