Council reduces minimum parking requirements near transit corridors

The City Council unanimously passed a zoning code amendment Friday morning reducing minimum parking requirements for residential projects along transit corridors.

The amendment eliminates minimum parking requirements for residential projects with 50 units or less within a quarter of a mile of frequent bus service and one-half mile from rail. Projects over 50 units in the same areas will have a 0.5 parking space requirement per unit, under a compromise measure approved by the Council.

Before the zoning code change, projects outside of downtown were required to have one parking space per residential unit. 

City Council Member Lisa Bender (Ward 10) proposed the change in an effort to allow for more flexibility in the design of residential projects and make it easier to build affordable units since parking drives up the cost of projects.

“Our parking requirements have a lot of unintended consequences that raise the cost of housing, preclude development on smaller scale sites, and drive poor design choices,” she said. “Today we made it easier for people in Minneapolis to choose where to live and how to get around by tying parking reform to transit-rich areas of our city. This is a small change that will have a big impact over time.”

The University of Minnesota area is exempt from the parking changes. Downtown has also not had minimum parking requirements since 2009. Despite that developers continue to building ample parking since the market has called for that.

City Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden (Ward 8) said she’s already talked to a developer who is moving ahead with a project on Nicollet that wouldn’t have been possible without the changing in the parking requirements.

“We are already seeing the fruits of this,” she said.

The number of cars purchased by people 18 to 30 fell nearly 30 percent from 2007 to 2011, according to a city staff report presented to the Council recently.

City Council Member Lisa Goodman (Ward 7) has also proposed a measure that would limit the size of surface parking lots next to residential developments outside of downtown.