Friday’s Headlines: ‘Parking Mandates Got To Go!’ Edition

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine is all riled up to end archaic parking minimums. Photo: David Meyer
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine is all riled up to end archaic parking minimums. Photo: David Meyer

New York City risks a huge missed opportunity if it doesn’t reform its parking requirements for new residential developments this year, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine warned on Thursday.

Speaking at an Open Plans rally against the city’s 60-year-old minimum parking mandates, Levine suggested the window to change zoning laws — open this year as the city considers zoning text amendments — will be narrow and fleeting.

“The last time you really had a total reboot in zoning citywide was 1961,” Levine said.

“We have now … an opportunity that we have to seize. If we do not get the parking mandate lifted now in this package of city-wide zoning text amendments, I don’t know when the chance will come around again.”

The rally coincided with the release of an Open Plans white paper making the case for full elimination of parking mandates — the simplest and most impactful route to an increase in housing development at lower cost (with the side benefit of more walkable and safe neighborhoods and lower carbon footprints).

For every 1.2 parking spaces constructed, one unit of housing is lost — an almost one-to-one tradeoff, according to the report.

“There are projects that were probably never built Uptown because the numbers didn’t work with the parking mandate,” Levine said. “It’s really a devastating loss of the housing that we need. The solution is so obvious — lift the parking mandate.”

In other news:

  • Several outlets followed our exclusive coverage of “Train Daddy” Andy Byford’s new Amtrak gig. (Gothamist, Jalopnik, NY1, NY Post)
  • Byford told the Times that he is “excited and humbled to be joining such an American icon.”
  • The MTA announced more routes where it will allow open strollers on buses. (CBS New York)
  • Upstate pols want to raise the speed limit on New York highways to address driver “comfort.” (NYT)
  • An FDNY report blamed a fire that destroyed decades of evidence at an NYPD warehouse on an “electrical blowout” — and not the “large amount of combustible material” discovered at the scene of the blaze in December. (Gothamist)
  • A bill in Albany would enable Steve Cohen’s plans to build a parking lot on Citi Field’s parking lot. (The City, NY Post)
  • City Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez was in Washington on Thursday:

  • Inside the network of lobbyists keeping New York’s absurd and useless tax breaks in place. (Crain’s)
  • Pickleball comes to Central Park. (Curbed)


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In February, the Department of City Planning outlined the broad strokes of how the de Blasio administration will seek to change the rules that shape new development in New York. After eight months of public meetings and behind-the-scenes work, City Hall’s proposals were released this week. The documents reveal details of how the city wants to handle parking minimums in […]

All the Best Places in Cleveland Are Illegal Under Its Current Zoning

Cleveland’s first zoning code was written in 1929, and since then it’s been amended in ways that have eroded the walkability of the city. City leaders acknowledge that building compact, mixed-use neighborhoods has basically become illegal under the current zoning code. But in an exciting development, Cleveland is looking to overhaul its regulations to make the city a […]

Cincinnati Will Reform Its Parking Mandates

Bad parking policy can greatly harm a city. Too much parking makes walking impractical and uncomfortable. It also erodes the tax base, as the map of downtown Detroit we posted last week made painfully clear. Meanwhile, cities that manage the parking supply wisely have bolstered their downtowns, as we’ve seen in the cases of Pittsburgh and […]

More Affordable Housing, Fewer Driveways

As Minneapolis considers dropping parking minimums for residential developments near transit, Seattle may soon be talking about doing away with driveways for single-family houses. Erica C. Barnett at Seattle Transit Blog writes that Mayor Ed Murray’s committee on affordable housing and urban livability has drafted a proposal to replace single-family zoning with a new designation that would […]