The San Diego City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee voted 3-1 Wednesday to send proposed reforms to the city’s parking requirements for new housing developments to the full council.
Under current city law, new housing developments within the city require a minimum number of accompanying parking spaces attached to the housing unit or units. Mayor Kevin Faulconer proposed eliminating such requirements in November, suggesting that it could lead to housing construction costs decreasing by as much as $90,000 per unit.
“The cost of that goes to every single door that is out there for sale or for rent,” said City Councilman Scott Sherman.
Should the council vote in favor of the proposal, developers would be able to build housing developments with no dedicated parking spaces within a “transit priority area.” According to the San Diego Association of Governments’ 2050 Regional Plan, such areas sit within a half-mile of one or more planned or existing transit stops. However, developers could call an area with a transit stop planned for 2045 a “transit priority area” since the regional plan is designed to remain in use through 2050.
The proposal also includes a mandate for housing developers to include resources in transit priority areas like secure bike storage and repair stations, transit passes and storage facilities for delivered packages and other items.
City officials cited cities with similar lax parking requirements like Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, as evidence the proposal will make progress in fighting San Diego’s housing availability and affordability issues.
“We’re certainly not first out of the gate in the country to be able to look at this opportunity,” City Councilman Chris Ward said. “The whole reason why this is important for San Diego is to provide those options for lower-cost housing productions that we desperately need here in this community.”
Opponents of the proposal argued that the city’s public transit options are not yet robust enough to justify getting rid of parking space requirements wholesale. Consequently, residents are too wedded to their cars, they said.
Opponents also argued the proposal would cause public parking prices to skyrocket. According to city data, only 6.3 percent of San Diego residents do not own a vehicle.
City Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell, the only committee member to vote against the proposal, suggested it should be implemented only after the city improves public transit options.
“Our communities require investment in infrastructure first to help this transition,” Campbell said. “Our regional transit agencies are only beginning to fund projects that will make not having a car a viable option.”
Sherman, Ward and City Councilwoman Vivian Moreno voted in favor of the proposal. The full council is expected to discuss and vote on the proposal next month.
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