Minimum parking requirement reform bills have been floating around the California legislature for a while – last year it was AB 710, and this year it’s AB 904, both authored by East Bay Asm. Nancy Skinner.
This email blast to members from the American Planning Association’s California chapter doesn’t take an official position and does ask at the end for input, but their feelings on the bill are kind of hard to miss (all emphasis theirs, edited slightly for clarity):
AB 904 [.pdf], sponsored by the Infill Builder Association and authored again by Assembly Member Skinner, is a gut and amend that is now similar to AB 710 (Skinner). This bill requires restrictive parking standards similar to those included in AB 710, which you’ll recall died on the Senate floor at the end of last year. AB 904, in a different form, already passed the Assembly, and is now awaiting hearing in the Senate.
APA California is not opposed to the concept of lower parking requirements near transit when a community decides it is right for them – the issue is that a one-sized-fits-all statewide standard is not appropriate.
AB 904, on and after January 1, 2014, would prohibit a city or county (including charter cities) from requiring minimum parking requirements in transit-intensive areas greater than the following:
• One parking space per 1000 square feet for nonresidential projects (including commercial, industrial, institutional, or any other nonresidential projects regardless of type of use).
• One parking space per unit for non-income-restricted residential projects.
• 75/100ths parking spaces per unit for projects that include both income restricted and non-income restricted units.
• 5/10ths parking spaces per unit for units that are deed restricted at least 55 years to rents or prices affordable to persons and families making less than 60% of area median income.
The definition of “transit-intensive area” means an area that is within 1/2 mile of a major transit stop or within 1/4 mile of the center line of a high-quality transit corridor included in a regional transportation plan, including a major transit stop such as a High Speed Rail transit stop) included in a regional transportation plan but not completed.
There are a few exceptions. Units with floor ratios below 0.75, deed-restricted rent control/rental replacement units, and units where the owner withdrew the units from rental are all exempt from the parking restrictions.
Local agencies can impose higher parking standards than are included in the bill if they make written findings, based on substantial evidence and “objective criteria” that all of the following apply to the specific transit-intensive area:
1. There isn’t sufficient walkability.
2. There isn’t sufficient level of transit service or bike access to provide viable alternatives to the car.
3. The lower standards undermine “existing parking standards that create effective incentives for transit-oriented development or affordable housing production, or both”.
4. The standards conflict with a station area plan in effect as of 1/1/2013 that provides reduced off-street parking compared to standard zoning required outside the transit-intensive area.
The local agency would be required to adopt an ordinance implementing any parking standards above those included in the bill. But, if the agency does not adopt such an ordinance by January 1, 2014, projects deemed complete after January 1, 2014, but before adoption of the ordinance, would be required to meet the reduced parking requirements in this bill.
The sponsors believe that builders and the market should decide how much parking to provide, and that these reduced parking standards significantly reduce the cost of development and increase the number of transit-accessible and affordable housing units, increase density and development and use of public transit, and reduce green house gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled by removing an incentive to drive.
APA California is interested in receiving your comments on this measure, and are also interested in how you believe the bill would specifically impact your jurisdiction or community. Please send your comments to Sande George, contact info below, within the next two weeks.
In addition, if you believe that this bill would create problems for you community, we urge you to write a letter to the author, with a copy to Sande, expressing opposition.
Lobbyist, APA California
925 L Street, Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95814
Thank you everyone,
Dave Snow, APA California Vice President of Policy and Legislation
Sande George, APA California Executive Director and Lobbyist
Lauren Silva, APA California Lobbyist
(Not sure if they took a position on last year’s bill – anyone know?)
And then there’s also the issue of affordable housing groups. Last go around, some opposed the legislation because they felt it would negate a specific type of affordable housing incentive where developers are allowed to build less parking than the statutory minimums require in exchange for setting aside some units for below-market rents/sales prices.
Here’s Mott Smith, a board member of the California Infill Builders Federation (which backs the bill) and a principal at LA-based Civic Enterprise, on affordable housing groups’ positions on today’s bill:
We already have the support of the California Housing Consortium, the State’s largest big-tent affordable housing builder group, the NRDC, the Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California and some other key groups from across the political spectrum. We are working with Housing California, who we expect to take a position on June 20th, the San Diego Housing Federation and the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing, who we expect to take positions in the coming several days.