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City Council OKs Sweeping Urban Parking Reforms

An MTS trolley car passes by a mostly empty parking lot at the Palm Avenue st...

Photo by Andrew Bowen

Above: An MTS trolley car passes by a mostly empty parking lot at the Palm Avenue station, Oct. 11, 2018.

GUEST: Andrew Bowen, metro reporter, KPBS News

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Transcript

San Diego City Council members Monday approved a sweeping set of reforms to the city's parking rules, intended to help wean the city off car dependence while also tackling the city's housing shortage.

The change will allow developers to construct apartment or condominium buildings with zero off-street parking spots if the housing is located within a half-mile of a major public transit stop. It will also place new requirements for developers to provide residents with "transportation amenities" such as subsidized public transit passes, bike repair stations or sidewalk improvements.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who has made housing regulatory reform a top priority for his final two years in office, told the council the city's parking requirements were outdated, and that they reduce the number of homes developers are able to include in their projects. He said one parking space can cost developers between $35,000 and $90,000.

"Those costs are then passed on to renters and buyers, making units less affordable for San Diego's working families, which are of course the lifeblood of our economy," he said.

RELATED: Planning Commissioners Give Thumbs Up To Urban Parking Reforms

The reforms also state when parking is provided in housing near transit stops, it must be "unbundled" — rented or sold separately from the housing unit. Councilwoman Vivian Moreno said this would allow car-free households to save money.

"Once you have the option to buy a unit without a parking space for less money, it makes you weigh the cost of having a car versus finding other modes of transportation," she said.

Councilwoman Jen Campbell, whose District 2 includes some of San Diego's beach communities, was the only council member to vote against the proposal. She said the city's public transit was not yet effective or efficient enough to allow large numbers of San Diegans to live without cars.

"Not having parking with neither provide mass transit, nor will it directly provide more housing," she said. "The removal of parking requirements should be one of the last steps in moving our city away from car-centric transit instead of one of the first."

City staffers said most new developments would likely still include some off-street parking, particularly in areas where demand is high and developers will face trouble renting or selling homes with no dedicated parking spaces.

Similar parking reforms have been approved in San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle and several other cities.

San Diego City Council members have approved a sweeping set of reforms to the city's parking rules, intended to help wean the city off car dependence while also tackling the city's housing shortage.

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