Policy Minute: Minimum Parking Requirements

Research & Policy | October 14th 2015

City Street with text Policy Minute

New York City’s Zoning for Quality and Affordability zoning text amendment recently started winding its way through the city’s public review process. The proposal aims to reform a number of zoning provisions that the city claims are unnecessarily hindering the creation of housing and driving up its cost. Among other provisions, the amendment takes on New York City’s minimum parking requirements.

While affordable housing is currently exempt from parking requirements in a few areas of the city, affordable housing developers are required to provide some off-street parking in most neighborhoods, which drives up the cost of that housing. The amendment proposes to eliminate off-street parking requirements for new affordable housing in “Transit Zones,” defined as areas with good access to public transit (see proposal description).


Status Quo

  • In NYC, developers are required to provide about 40 new off-street parking spaces for every 100 new housing units. More >>
  • "The median municipality in the U.S. requires that developers set aside 1.5 parking spaces for each two-bedroom unit. Given that a parking space requires 300-400 sq. ft. of building area, these regulations typically add about 50% of the floor area needed to build a 900-square-foot apartment." More >>
  • "Data suggest that parking requirements cause developers to build more parking spaces than they otherwise would based on what they believe their prospective tenants or buyers demand." More >>


Policy Briefs


Academic Research



"Even apartment dwellers without cars are effectively forced to pay for the cost of a parking space because the cost of parking provision makes development more expensive." 
-Ingrid Gould Ellen, NYU Furman Center Faculty Director, The Next Urban Renaissance: How Public-Policy Innovation and Evaluation Can Improve Life in America’s Cities


The Numbers

$31,000: The estimated cost of a Los Angeles parking space (Donald C. Shoup, The High Cost of Free Parking, [Chicago: APA Planners Press, 2011])


Spotlight On: Seattle

Seattle’s new idea would require developers to "offer new tenants a suite of alternative transport options. So instead of getting a parking spot, a resident might get a transit pass or a bike-share membership instead—a trade that, over time, should reduce parking demand and promote car-free living." (CityLab, Eric Jaffe, 5/8/2015)
See also: Seattle Planning Department proposal (PDF)


More Viewpoints

IN THE MEDIA: CityLab: An Unusual Objection to Less Parking: It Will Make Our City Too Nice (Eric Jaffe, 9/21/2015)
ITDP Mexico: Less parking, more city
Reinventing Parking tracks parking policy and reform across the globe.


Policy Minute, prepared and distributed by the NYU Furman Center, highlights research and discussion relevant to current policy debates. Join our mailing list to receive Policy Minute by email.

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