Explore the reforms of over 200 cities on the map below. Click the info icon in the upper right corner, or scroll down on this page, for definitions and insights. You can submit an update or new report here and send feedback to email@example.com
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Costly car parking mandates are required for housing and commercial uses in most North American cities and towns. Over the last century, these costly requirements have contributed to urban sprawl, lack of abundant and affordable housing, car dependency, and climate change. In recent years, however, many places have implemented reforms to these mandates, exempting new buildings from parking. Sometimes these reforms are limited to certain streets or businesses, sometimes to particular land uses, and sometimes based on requirements like proximity to transit or inclusion of affordable housing, but it’s clear that parking reform has momentum!
- When it comes to parking codes, multifaceted is the norm and simplicity is the exception. The most simple way to integrate parking reform in a zoning code is simply: “there are no provisions that establish a minimum number of off-street parking spaces for development for all land uses”, this is easy to implement, clear for readers to understand, and a tremendous advancement in making your city more livable. But more often, communities address a variety of use cases through writing many, many provisions. A zoning code commonly includes provisions to eliminate minimums in a central business district for all land uses…another provision to eliminated requirements for just commercial land uses along a specific corridor…another provision to be eligible to reduce residential requirements in another area…another provision to reduce a percentage of parking requirements if additional bicycle parking is included on site…another provision about maximums along pedestrian-oriented or transit-oriented land uses…you get the picture. While these provisions are an important step to accomplish parking reform, high levels of intricacy can create confusion for incoming developments, make it more technically challenging for staff to make adjustments, and limit growth. As the success of citywide parking reforms continue to increase, we hope the number of provisions will continue to decrease.
- A very large number of cities have eliminated minimum requirements for a very small portion of their communities. Of the 200 examined codes, approximately 20% have abolished or reduced parking mandates citywide. The remainder have eliminated parking requirements in specific areas such as a central business district, main street, or historic district. In fact, several codes limited parking reforms to two to four blocks within a downtown or commercial district, as seen below. Eliminating minimum parking requirements is progress no matter which way you cut it, but limiting it to such an insignificant area also limits the positive impacts of these policies. Cities with such boundaries should consider expanding them to mirror the pace of their population, density, and development growth.
- Parking reform heavily leans toward commercial land uses. More often than not, parking requirements for commercial land uses are the first to go. Nearly every map entry eliminates mandates for commercial/retail development, facilitating walkable downtowns and commercial districts, but residential reform is just as important and has much more conservative parking ratios. Parking requirements for residential land uses are typically reserved for individuals and remain vacant for large portions of the day. Tackling residential parking requirements remains a major opportunity in the parking reform movement.
- Parking maximums are not uncommon. Parking maximums (a required cap on the total number of parking spaces constructed) have been a polarizing reform strategy in recent years due to concerns surrounding developer push-back and vehicle access limitations. But with 45 code entries–many of which being in communities with under 50,000 people–they seem to be less controversial than anticipated. One of the many benefits of having a crowdsourced map is that communities adopting bold and progressive reforms can share their accomplishments, encourage others to do the same, and create a cycle of parking reform throughout the country. But don’t take our word for it, check out the map to read more about these policies and check out what’s new below.
What does “implementation stage” mean?
- Proposed – This reform has been proposed by an elected/appointed official or by a planning department, etc. Bend Councilor Proposes…
- Planned – The city has approved a long range plan or other aspirational guide to study removal/reductions in car parking. Could also be planning commission passage.
- Pilot – The city has temporarily reduced car parking requirements as a pilot. Passed – City Council or the governing planning body has passed the parking reform policy. (Make note when the policy is to go into effect)
- Implemented – The policy has gone into effect and is the current law of the land.
- Repealed – Parking reform has been reversed due to legal challenges or superceding legislation.
What does “affected land use” mean?
- Commercial – the reform applies to commercial uses
- Industrial – the reform applies to industrial uses
- Other – the reform applies to other uses (eg: schools, churches, arenas)
- Low-Density Residential – the reform applies to single family homes, duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes…
- Multi-Family Residential – the reform applies to apartment buildings, midrise, etc.
- High-Density Residential – the reform applies to very large apartments, condos, towers.
What does “Scope of Reform” mean?
- Citywide – the reform applies citywide (special exemptions, hazard zones, etc. are OK)
- City Center/Business District – Reform applies to certain centers_corridors and districts.
- Transit Oriented – Reform is based on transit stations and bus lines.
- Main Street/Special – Reform is specific to certain streets, historic districts, etc.
What does “Policy Change” mean?
- Reduce minimum parking requirements – ratios have been lowered, but not eliminated. This could be overall or based on inclusionary housing, transit proximity, etc.
- Eliminate minimum parking requirements – parking requirements can be completely avoided, either by-right or by reasonable condition.
- Parking maximums – limits on the amount of parking which can be built.