Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Would You Use Public Transit if You Could Save between $20,000 and $80,000 on Your Home?

The cost to build a parking stall can range anywhere from $20,000 to $80,000 or more.

Progressive communities like the City of Seattle, San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington DC are looking beyond parking stalls and pursuing strategies toward promoting transportation, parking, and personal mobility efficiencies.  For example, the City of Seattle does not require parking for new buildings located in downtown or transit-friendly areas, and it continues to investigate policies that allow it to grow and evolve in ways that are functional, economic, and livable.

In a recent report prepared for the Seattle City Council, the City's planning department and state DOT analyzed the City’s vehicle and bicycle parking requirements for residential uses.  Their approach placed a preference on "lower costs to build housing rather than the storage of automobiles."

The report identified the following findings and best practices:

  • Take steps to aid housing affordability by limiting the financial impacts of parking on housing
  • Avoid requiring excess parking
  • Manage on‐street parking to reduce demand
  • Requirements for off‐street parking artificially support driving
  • Requiring more off‐street parking does not directly lead to less on‐street parking demand
  • Increasing access to and knowledge about transportation helps people choose from a variety of convenient and affordable options
  • Housing and transportation costs are the greatest burdens on household budgets
  • Equitable approaches that provide transportation options make a real difference for those who most need those choices
  • Use a combination of strategies
Puget Sound Bike Share

Recommendations included:

  • Tailor parking requirements for new development in areas with frequent transit service
  • Require a “residential transportation options program” that includes requirements for multifamily building owners to provide transit passes and other mobility options for residents of new buildings (actual costs of this type of program will be a small fraction of the cost of building new parking)
  • Adopt a map showing where parking is not required, providing more predictability for permit applicants, neighbors, and planning department staff
  • Remove code barriers to shared parking options, and address garage design to facilitate shared use parking; Consider code revisions to allow bike share and car share in‐lieu of required parking
  • Update bicycle parking code requirements to better address secure, comfortable, long‐term bicycle parking needs
The full report, "City of Seattle Parking Review: Report to Council PLUS Committee," April 13, 2015, is available at

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