- The new Austin City Council has made some very encouraging decisions to address housing affordability lately.
- Last week, Austin became the largest city in the country to eliminate parking minimums.
- This should help affordability by decreasing the overall cost of new developments.
I have written a couple times in this blog that the last Austin City Council election was very encouraging for housing advocates. At least three new councilmembers who appear to be pro-housing were elected to the Council. When you combine them with the previous makeup of the Council, there was legitimate optimism that we could move in the right direction and properly address affordability.
Well the last couple of weeks have seen that optimism put into action with a couple of decisions that have the chance of having a huge positive impact on our City. The first was step one in some significant changes to the land use code. I will talk about that possibility in a later blog entry.
This week, I want to talk about Austin becoming the biggest city in the country to eliminate minimum parking requirements for new developments. So lets do it.
Austin Eliminates Minimum Parking Requirements
In a landmark decision, the Austin City Council recently voted to eliminate parking minimum requirements for all new developments in the city. Thus in new buildings, developers will not be required to put in any parking if they choose not to. This decision is a major victory for housing affordability, public transportation, and the environment.
Parking requirements are a major driver of housing costs. When developers are required to build a certain number of parking spaces, it adds to the cost of construction and development. This cost is ultimately passed on to homeowners and renters.
Some studies show that a surface parking spot can cost a developer between $5,000 – $10,000 in extra costs to the development. And a spot in a parking garage can cost between $25,000 – $65,000. Which can increase rent for by up to $200 per month for each apartment unit. This is a significant increase, especially in a city like Austin where housing prices are already high.
By eliminating parking minimums, the Austin City Council is taking a step to make housing more affordable for all residents. Developers will have more flexibility to build more housing units on the same piece of land, and they will not have to pass on the cost of parking to homeowners and renters.
This is especially important for low-income residents, who are often disproportionately burdened by the high cost of housing. Eliminating parking minimums will help to make housing more affordable for all Austinites.
Eliminating parking minimums will promote public transportation
In addition to running up the costs of development, parking minimums also discourage people from using public transportation. When people know that they will be able to find free and convenient parking at their destination, they are more likely to drive.
Eliminating parking minimums will make it easier for people to use public transportation, walk, or bike. This will reduce traffic congestion and make it easier for people to get around the city.
Thus by reducing the number of cars on the road, eliminating parking minimums will benefit the environment. This change has the possibility of making Austin a more walkable, livable city where you can live, work, and play.
The Austin City Council’s decision to eliminate parking minimum requirements is a major victory for housing affordability, public transportation, and the environment. This decision will help to make housing more affordable for all residents, reduce traffic congestion, and improve air quality.