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Rep. Robert Garcia wants to get rid of parking spots to improve housing affordability

Bynewsmagzines

May 3, 2023
Rep. Robert Garcia wants to get rid of parking spots to improve housing affordability

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Cars on Manhattan’s Upper East Side give way for a street sweeper before returning to their parking spaces in New York City, USA, 21 December 2016.
Chris Melzer/Getty Images
  • A congressman is planning to introduce a bill banning minimum parking requirements near mass transit. 
  • The California Democrat says the bill will help address the housing shortage and climate crisis.
  • “We know that parking raises the cost of housing immensely,” Garcia told Insider.

Rep. Robert Garcia, a California Democrat and the former mayor of Long Beach, plans to introduce a bill early next week to ban minimum requirements for parking spaces near transit hubs, he said on Wednesday. 

The legislation aims to promote housing density and walkability in urban areas by getting rid of requirements that developers provide a certain amount of off-street parking with every project. 

“We know that parking raises the cost of housing immensely,” Garcia told Insider on Wednesday. “We need to create cities and communities that are more walkable, that are more multimodal friendly.” 

Garcia first made the announcement on bluesky, a burgeoning alternative to Twitter that a handful of Democratic lawmakers have begun using.

And as of Wednesday afternoon, Garcia was still actively workshopping ideas for the bill’s name on the platform, suggesting the “People over Cars Act,” the “Homes for People not Cars Act,” or the “People over Parking Act.”

“I’m taking ideas!” wrote Garcia, adding that his staff “has no idea I’m naming bills on bluesky lol.”

Garcia announces the forthcoming introduction of his bill on bluesky, a Twitter alternative.
Garcia announces the forthcoming introduction of his bill on bluesky, a Twitter alternative.
Screenshot/bluesky

Advocates for housing and transit have long condemned parking minimums, arguing they exacerbate car dependence and emissions, make communities less walkable, take valuable real estate from housing and public space, and increase construction costs, among other ills. The rules have attracted increasing scrutiny as the US faces skyrocketing housing costs and a growing housing shortage.

And the US has an astounding amount of parking. The US has an estimated three parking spots for every car, according to Donald Shoup, a leading parking expert and professor of Urban Planning at UCLA. 

Critics argue that parking requirements around transit hubs are particularly unnecessary and inequitable because many residents in those communities don’t own cars. They rely on public transit, yet they face higher housing costs because valuable space in their communities is dedicated to parking.  

“Parking minimums shape your entire life even if you don’t realize it, from the size of your rent check to the length of your commute to how many friends live nearby,” Washington Post climate columnist Michael J. Coren wrote on Tuesday. 

Some state and local governments have moved to get rid of some parking rules and Garcia said his legislation will is modeled off laws in California. Last fall, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill banning parking requirements for developments near transit hubs across the state. 

Garcia said he’s “hopeful” that some Republicans will get behind the bill.

“At the end of the day, this is an issue that, regardless of political perspectives, we should get behind,” he said. “We need to lower the cost of housing, we need to create more dense communities and whether it’s Republicans or progressives that get behind it, I think everyone should be behind this.” 

He added, “This makes housing more accessible, and it shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”

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