Council committee backs measure lifting parking requirements along transit corridors

A proposed zoning code amendment eliminating the minimum-parking requirement for residential developments along transit corridors cleared the City Council Zoning & Planning Committee Thursday morning.

Under current code, residential developments outside of downtown are required to have one parking space per unit. 

The measure, authored by City Council Member Lisa Bender (Ward 10), is intended to give developers more flexibility and make it easier to build affordable housing since parking structures drive up construction costs. 

“This is about putting people over cars in ways that opens up options for people,” Bender said.

City Council President Barb Johnson (Ward 4) voted against the zoning code amendment, however, and expressed concerns about the potential impact on North Minneapolis. She predicted developers would stop building parking for projects on the North Side, resulting in many more cars parked on the streets.

City Council Member Lisa Goodman (Ward 7) emphasized that developers aren’t mandated to eliminate parking. Downtown has no minimum-parking requirement for residential projects and many developers continue to build parking because that is what the market dictates.

The full City Council will vote on the measure July 10.

Depending on the size of the residential development and proximity to a transit stop, the requirement of having one parking space per residential unit would either be eliminated or reduced by 10 to 50 percent.

Multi-family residential developments with three or more units within 350 feet of a high-frequency transit stop would no longer have a minimum parking requirement. 

The University of Minnesota area, however, would be exempt from the proposed changes.

The committee voted on the proposal after taking comments from both supporters and opponents of the measure.

Sarahlyn Romanishan of the Wedge neighborhood spoke against eliminating the parking requirements, saying it won’t be viable and “cars aren’t going away.” She called for more extensive research into the issue.

Meanwhile, Sam Rockwell commended the Council for considering the idea. He said his family has been able to enjoy city life without needing a car.

During a presentation before the Council committee, Aaron Hanauer, a senior city planner, said the city’s parking requirement has become outdated. It’s been in place since the 1960s and doesn’t reflect trends in transportation patterns.

From 2007 to 2011, the number of cars purchased by people 18 to 30 fell nearly 30 percent, according to a city staff report presented to the committee. In Minneapolis, 18 percent of households don’t own a car and 30 percent of all rental units in the city don’t have a car. 

(Below: A map showing areas covered by the proposed parking requirement exemption.)