Council votes to end city-mandated parking minimums for new developments

Austin City Council has passed a resolution to move forward with completely removing parking requirements for all new developments in Austin's land development code.

The resolution sets a Dec. 31 deadline for city staff to bring a code amendment that would eliminate parking requirements citywide. The resolution also directs staff to develop strategies to allow for accessible parking on city-owned right-of-way adjacent to or reasonably nearby the project.

If approved, Austin would join a growing list of U.S. cities that have eliminated or reduced municipal parking mandates, says Austin City Council member Zo Qadri.

"Let me be clear: This in no way will eliminate a single parking space in Austin. It simply lets the market and private property owners decide how much space for storing cars they wish to provide," said Qadri in a release. "Our decades-old policy of top-down parking prescriptions has helped make Austin an overparked, sprawling, car-dependent city. Taking them out of our code will help us achieve our goals of being a safer, more accessible, affordable, and sustainable community."

Qadri brought forth the resolution with Council Members Vanessa Fuentes, Ryan Alter, Paige Ellis, and Leslie Pool as co-sponsors.


Qadri's office says Austin has already experimented with eliminating parking mandates. In 2013, City Council nixed them in the Central Business District and in response, many of the new Downtown towers built since sit on top of multi-level parking structures. 

Qadri and his cosponsors also collaborated with reform advocates and members of the disability rights organization, ADAPT of Texas to make sure any new developments remain accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Alina Carnahan, vice president for advocacy with the Real Estate Council of Austin, pointed out in a letter sent before the vote that shifting to market-based parking policies provides multiple benefits.

"First, it allows for cost savings: parking spaces can cost more than $40,000 per space," Carnahan wrote. "The space saved by not overbuilding parking can be used for more commercial space and more housing within the same footprint, reducing sprawl and lowering per-unit or per-square-foot costs on projects."

Carnahan also wrote that this can help speed up the development review process and allow for faster delivery of new housing.