- Free Consultations / No Fees Until We Win
- (213) 927-3700
Personal Injury Firm
Written by Assemblymember Laura Friedman, the bill on minimum parking requirements reportedly passed the Assembly Committee on Local Government on a 6-1 vote. A.B. 1401 passed with no spoken opposition.
The bill would not prohibit building any parking. Instead, it would prohibit cities from setting minimum requirements for certain developments in areas where other options exist. Typically city zoning codes require a minimum number of parking spaces in new developments, but the number is not based on how much parking is actually needed and doesn’t require an assessment of how much parking is already available.
These requirements hurt housing affordability, take up space that could be used for housing, and encourage driving. A new study found that bigger parking lots make people drive more. After surveying the auto ownership and basic transportation habits of the residents of 2,654 homes in 197 projects built since 2002, the authors found that projects with more on-site parking induce more auto ownership. “Buildings with at least one parking space per unit (as required by zoning codes in most U.S. cities, and in San Francisco until circa 2010) have more than twice the car ownership rate of buildings that have no parking,” the authors wrote.
Assemblymember Friedman pointed to what happened when the city of Buffalo ended parking requirements within its city limits. Some developers built less parking; some made agreements to share parking; some built even more parking than they would have otherwise. But the main result was that “a lot of housing was produced, with less parking than would have been required before the minimums were eliminated, but with enough for the residents,” she said.
Several California cities, including Sacramento, San Francisco, Berkeley, and San Diego, have already adopted similar rules. This bill would expand the practice to all California cities, in areas well-served by transit. “Parking minimums encourage a car-centric approach that makes walking and biking impossible because everything is surrounded by seas of parking,” she explained.
More cars on the road tend to mean more vehicular collisions, even if the coronavirus pandemic reduced traffic across cities in California. According to data gathered between Feb. 3 and Apr. 27 2020 during the early days of the coronavirus shutdown by UC Berkeley professor Offer Grembek, co-director of the Safe Transportation Research & Education Center (SafeTREC), found a 19% drop in vehicles miles traveled (VMT) in California. The study also found a 29% drop in the rate of minor injury vehicle crashes per 100 million VMT from Mar. 23 through Jun. 8. However, the rate of fatal and severe traffic crashes in the state went up by 15%.
Others argue that having too much parking ends up encouraging drunk driving, since even establishments like bars and nightclubs must have some parking. In Los Angeles County, bars and nightclubs are required to provide at least one parking space per three occupants, or 10 spaces at minimum. According to an annual report by the DMV, California had a total of 123,548 DUI arrests, 26,967 alcohol-involved crash injuries, and 1,294 alcohol-involved crash fatalities in 2017. Of all 2016 DUI arrests, 21.0% were associated with a reported traffic crash.
A.B. 1401 must now be heard by the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development, chaired by Assemblymember David Chiu, before proceeding to the floor of the Assembly.