Best Parking Policies of 2020

By Jane Wilberding, Lindsay Bayley, and Tony Jordan

As we conclude our first year as an organization, we would like to reflect on recent accomplishments made in the area of parking reform throughout the U.S. and across the globe. Below is the Parking Reform Network’s summary of the best parking reform policies that came out of what proved to be a tumultuous year for so many.

One of the biggest areas for reform was in the continued elimination of minimum parking requirements. A range of communities, from big cities like Edmonton, to mid-size cities like Pittsburgh and Traverse City, to Hamlet (IN), have chosen to remove the mandate to build car parking with new development. 

Portland passed what is arguably the best low-density zoning reform in the US, which included eliminating parking requirements on 3/4th of the land in the city. By allowing builders to provide the amount of parking their future tenants may need, the housing market can become more responsive to changing needs. Small scale developers will have an easier time building housing, and they’ll be shifting away from subsidizing driving. 

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) have also continued to make news. San Diego eased car parking requirements for ADUs and Chicago eased its ban on Accessory Dwelling Units. The Windy City also made news with their Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Policy Plan. In Seattle, paid parking rates will increase or decrease in downtown and surrounding neighborhood business districts as determined by a performance-based parking program.

There was exciting news for Parking Benefit Districts laws in San Marcos, TX. By charging tourists for the most valuable parking spaces (as advisory Board member Donald Shoup advises), the City is helping to manage demand. A portion of the revenue generated from the meters would be allocated to “address littering and park rule violations by hiring additional park rangers and park maintenance crew members.” 

Washington, DC is making progress on improving the parity for commuters who do not drive through the adoption of a Parking Cash Out law. Employers with more than 20 employees who pay for their employee parking, will be required to offer all employees a commuter benefit. That way, people who pay to take transit will be on the same footing as people who drive and are given a free parking spot. The law will not go into effect until 2023.

Other cities moving forward toward reducing or removing minimum parking requirements in 2020 include: Vancouver and Calgary (studying the possibility), Honolulu (PRN member helped to get requirements reduced and in some cases, eliminated). Paris is committing to eliminate half of its car parking.

We are eager to continue to influence and document the parking reform policies in 2021.   

The Parking Reform Network has 160 members hailing from 22 of the US states and DC, three Canadian provinces, two Australian states, and Singapore. Our membership includes an impressive array of parking professionals, city planners, educators, consultants, authors, and activists.

Since our launch in March 2020 we are proud of our growth and accomplishments, including the following:

  • We have added over 600 tagged links to the Link Library for articles and resources
  • Research Intern Andrew Kiefaber conducted a survey of 14 cities’ on-street parking management policies for our parking policy report card project.  Learn more.
  • Research Intern Evan Kindler has begun a literature review of Parking Benefit Districts to assist Board Member Mike Kwan in producing the first “chapter” of a Parking Reform Playbook.
  • Communications Intern Angel York is helping us to streamline our publishing and membership communications processes to keep members better informed of our activities.  
  • Our Board graded Portlanders for Parking Reform’s candidate survey responses for the May 2020 City Council primary election.
  • We hosted a fun and informative online membership meeting in September where members got to meet each other and mingle with Don Shoup, Norman Garrick, Todd Litman, Patrick Siegman, and Paul Barter!

We’re on a roll with weekly Parking Reform News posts and we’ve got a great and growing archive of original posts on our blog.

We worked on parking reform, we are working on parking reform, and we will keep at it until parking is reformed. Please donate. And spread the word!

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