Bay Area/ San Jose/ Politics & Govt
Published on December 13, 2022
San Jose becomes the biggest city in the U.S. to eliminate minimum parking requirements for new buildingsPhoto Credit: Canva

In an effort to save space and reduce its dependability on cars, San Jose has become the biggest city in the U.S. to eliminate minimum parking requirements for new developments. The City Council voted on December 6th to ditch the decades-old law that required developers to add a certain number of parking spaces depending on what they were building. Now, it will be up to developers to decide how much parking their designs will require, if any at all. Changing the rule is expected to help the city build more housing and lower greenhouse gases.

As the Mercury News reports, Councilmember Pam Foley asked during the December 6th council meeting, “How many parking lots do we see that are big shopping centers (and) the parking lot is half empty? We need to correct that and make sure that space is utilized for other things.” It’s important to note that the move does not mean that any current parking lots will shrink.

San Jose is not the first city to get rid of minimum parking requirements, but with a population near 1 million, it is the biggest. San Francisco got rid of these requirements in 2018, and cities like Berkeley, Oakland, San Diego, Minneapolis, and Buffalo have added rules to create limited parking reductions. Also, Governor Newsom ended parking minimums statewide for developments less than a half-mile from public transit. “It’s an evolutionary moment. It’s trying to make a more human scale and safer city,” Michael Lane with the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) told the Mercury News.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, which supports the move, “a single parking space in the Bay Area can cost as much as $30,000 in a surface lot and more than $75,000 in an underground garage, and these costs are passed onto residents and tenants in the form of higher rents.” Not everyone is happy about the elimination of parking minimums in San Jose. Residents on the east side are concerned because many people who park on the street say they already have trouble finding spaces close to their homes. They fear that if extra parking isn’t added to new development projects, the street parking shortage will only get worse. Mayor-elect Matt Mahan admitted to the Mercury News that neighborhoods like Alum Rock and Cassell already have “pretty significant challenges with parking.”