- The City of Austin has traditionally required developers to include a minimum number of off street parking when they build multifamily housing.
- Earlier this month, the City Council passed a measure that will eliminate parking requirements city wide.
- Doing so will help reduce the cost of development and should lead to more affordable housing.
There was some pretty interesting housing news that came out of City Hall here in Austin a couple of weeks ago. And I’m a little behind on talking about it in this blog. But I want to circle back to it this week.
Austin has a lot of requirements and restrictions that are detrimental to increasing the housing supply. We have talked about a lot of them in this blog – lot size, compatibility, etc. The City Council talked about another one of these requirements at a recent meeting. Parking takes up a lot of space that developers could use for other, more beneficial reasons.
So lets talk about what the Austin City Council decided.
Austin Currently has Parking Minimums for Many Multifamily Developments
As you probably know, Austin currently has minimum parking requirements for developers who are building multifamily housing. These requirements specify the number of parking spaces that developers must provide for each unit of housing – depending on the type and location of the development. However, in recent years, there has been increasing debate about the necessity and effectiveness of these minimum parking requirements.
The current minimum parking requirements for multifamily housing in Austin vary depending on the number of bedrooms in each unit and the location of the development. For example, developments located in urban core areas have lower parking requirements than those in suburban or rural areas. The minimum parking requirements also vary depending on the size of the unit. One-bedroom units require 1.5 parking spaces and three-bedroom units require 2 parking spaces.
These minimum parking requirements, though, are a serious impediment to the development of multifamily housing in Austin. Studies have shown that the actual usage of parking spaces in these developments is often much lower than the minimum requirements. This leads to wasted space and increased construction costs that are ultimately passed on to renters.
In 2013, Austin basically eliminated minimum parking requirements for downtown developments. But they are still required in other parts of the city. That’s why the City Council took up the issue two weeks ago.
The City Council Voted to Remove Parking Minimums
The City Council, therefore, on May 4 voted to remove parking minimums for developments citywide. It was passed with only one dissenting vote. This marks a significant and welcomed shift in the city’s approach to parking requirements.
The sponsor of the resolution, new City Councilmember Zo Qadri said the city’s development code was standing in the way of boosting the housing supply and reducing carbon emissions. “I think our priorities should be space for people rather than mandating space for cars,” he said. The resolution instructs the city manager’s staff to draft a code amendment to eliminate parking requirements.* As a result, its not clear when this will be implemented.
The elimination of parking minimums for affordable housing is particularly significant, as it is often cited as a major barrier to the development of more affordable housing in Austin. By removing this requirement, the city hopes to encourage more developers to build affordable housing projects, which could help to alleviate the city’s ongoing housing affordability crisis.
Overall, the recent vote by the Austin City Council to remove parking minimums for multifamily development represents a significant step forward in the city’s efforts to promote more sustainable, equitable, and affordable housing options. While the full impact of these changes remains to be seen, they are likely to spur new innovation in the design and development of multifamily housing in Austin and beyond.
*Thank you to Jack Craver’s daily newsletter – The Austin Politics Newsletter.