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San Francisco Eliminates Parking Minimums

9:37 AM PST on December 18, 2018

Photo: Tim Adams/Wikimedia

In a win for housing affordability and walkability, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted last week to eliminate the city's minimum parking requirements.

The reform, approved by a 7-4 vote [PDF, page 7] last Tuesday, makes SF the latest city to dump antiquated rules that constitute a huge hidden subsidy for driving. Hartford, Buffalo and Minneapolis have all either moved to or done away with parking minimums in the last two years alone.

According to estimates by SF's planning department, minimum parking rules add between $20-50,000 to the cost of an apartment in the city. They also undermine pedestrian safety, requiring dangerous driveways to be built in some of the most densely populated, walkable areas of the city. And they also contributes to traffic, encouraging residents to own private cars, instead of take the train or bus or bike.

The mandatory parking rules date back to the 1960s and required [PDF], for example, one parking space for every six classrooms at an elementary school. In some places, they require one parking space per housing unit.

San Francisco has allowed developers to skirt those regulations through a exemption process. But this reform will make it much cheaper and easier to build at a walkable scale in one of the nation's most walkable cities.

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