This should come as no surprise to anyone who’s taken a look at America’s absurdly restrictive minimum parking requirements, but Streetsblog has come up with a really great example of really bad parking policy in action:
The HUD-sponsored project, located on Bathgate Avenue between 183rd and 184th Streets, was originally slated to be an 18-unit building. Under the zoning that used to govern the site, the parking minimums were low enough that fewer than five spaces were required, said Ferrara. With such a small number of required spaces, the project was eligible for a waiver, meaning it didn’t need to build any parking at all.
In October, however, the area was classified as a “neighborhood preservation area” by the Department of City Planning in its Third Avenue/Tremont Avenue rezoning. The new zoning, known as R6A, carries slightly higher parking requirements for affordable projects [PDF]. “When we went down to an R6A,” said Ferrara, “it put us in a position where we couldn’t get the parking waived.” In effect, the rezoning added parking requirements where there hadn’t been any before.
I’ve praised Bloomberg’s rezoning in the past while also worrying that the lack of parking minimum reform would hold back growth. It looks like I was too generous—in some cases, the rezoning has actually made the parking minimum problem worse.
And just for the record, I looked up the location on a map, and the specific location is about a 10 minute walk to the closest B/D local station on the Grand Concourse. Its zipcode is pretty poor – 10458’s average adjusted gross income has been in decline since 2000 when adjusted for inflation, and currently stands at only $23,781. And obviously it’s a HUD project.
There’s also this interesting bit:
Even though he reported that it’s “not uncommon” to subdivide a project into smaller buildings in order to receive a waiver for each half, Ferrara said even that “is a cost item.” If you subdivided a taller project to avoid parking requirements, you’d have to spend twice the money and space on elevators, he offered as an example.
I’m not exactly sure why New York hasn’t tackled this yet. Bloomberg seems like a reasonably effective mayor, and clearly he’s very pro-development, so why hasn’t he done this? Normally I’d chalk it up to community opposition, but as Streetsblog has pointed out before, Washington, Philadelphia, and Boston have all started to tackle the problem of parking minimums – surely New York can’t have that many more NIMBYs than those cities, right? How is it that the mayor who built Brooklyn’s waterfront, hired Janette Sadik-Khan, and is on his second street pricing push hasn’t kept up with his peers in parking reform? Anyone have any idea?