St. Paul Weighs Reducing Parking Minimums for New Development
An increasingly popular attitude among St. Paul city officials, developers and housing advocates has been to reduce, or eliminate, the City’s parking minimums in order to increase housing supply. St. Paul and Minneapolis have recently considered the proposition of adjusting their zoning rules in order to increase affordable housing.
The St. Paul Planning Commission was recently presented with a study regarding city parking and the reduction of parking minimums. According to the St. Paul Mayor’s Chief Resilience Officer, the Mayor of St. Paul is supportive of reducing or eliminating parking minimums in order to create more affordable housing and reduce the City’s impact on the climate. St. Paul’s interest in reducing parking minimums throughout the City is not a novel concept. Many cities around the country have experimented with reducing parking minimums in order to promote alternate types of transportation, lessen a city’s impact on the climate, and create more affordable housing.
Currently, the City is reviewing two options related to minimum parking requirements. First, the City could merely reduce minimum parking requirements for developers and allow further reductions if the developers invest in alternatives to vehicle travel, such as subsidizing transit passes. Alternatively, the City could eliminate parking minimums entirely, though it would not prevent building developers from adding parking if they wanted to. Whichever new regulations the City decides to go with, the updated zoning requirements would not be retroactive and there would be no expectation that existing developments reduce parking at the building.
St. Paul’s current zoning regulations and minimum parking requirements are structured so that off-street parking exceeds demand at most residential and commercial locations. Further, each surface stall costs roughly $5,000 to install, and structured parking can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 per stall. City officials say that these parking requirements can have an impact on housing affordability, business flexibility and the climate. Additionally, when it comes to commercial growth, parking minimums can block the arrival of new restaurants and retailers.