Why some Texas cities are getting rid of their minimum parking rules

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Most cities require homes and businesses to have parking. Critics say they drive up housing costs, foster car dependency and raise carbon emissions.In car-dependent Texas, most cities have rules on how many parking spots must be built anywhere people live, play or do business. But those requirements have come under scrutiny in recent years, with critics saying they do more harm than good.

Doing away with parking minimums doesn’t mean parking will be abolished, reform proponents say. For instance, cities without parking mandates still must require properties to comply with federal law and build accessible parking spaces for people living with disabilities. And proponents expect developers will still build parking spots even if they’re not required to. But the decision of how much parking they should provide, reformers argue, should be left up to builders, not local governments.

“A city like Austin that has adopted progressive mobility, affordability and climate goals should not be in the business of requiring an arbitrary amount of car storage in every new development,” Austin City Council Member Zohaib “Zo” Qadri, the proposal’s author, said in a statement after the November vote.

“If we start to build neighborhoods that are built around small walkable blocks, maybe in the future we'll have the opportunity in neighborhoods for people to walk or bicycle to the grocery store,” Yantis said. Parking minimums drive up the cost of housing, too, critics say. A spot in a typical parking lot can cost between $5,000 to $10,000,, while a spot in a parking garage can cost from $25,000 to $65,000. Landlords then pass the cost of building and maintaining those parking spots on to tenants — who are more likely to have fewer cars than homeowners or not own one at all — in the form of higher rents.

 

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