More on AB 710 and Parking Requirements

A few weeks ago Tim O’Connell posted about AB 710 and the impact it could have on apartment developers, if the parking mandated by local codes is capped at 1 space per home/apartment. The effects could be positive – reducing development costs that aren’t really economic – and negative – less leverage to encourage low-income set asides – for affordable housing developers. AB 710 is visible on a larger stage, as the topic of Stephen Smith’s blog on Friday in Forbes. Not surprisingly, his position is that using  zoning codes (“entitlements” in our California vernacular) to extract concessions is rarely the “win-win”  it is made out to be.

But an unfortunate side effect is that affordable housing advocates and agencies
then have an incentive to oppose zoning or parking reform, because without the
onerous development restrictions, builders would no longer have to seek relief
through affordable housing programs. Housing activists might not even like
parking minimums – indeed, Housing California claims that they “agree with the
basic concept” of reform – but their allegiances (not to mention salaries) are
to affordable housing programs, not to affordable housing in general. Read more

How Much Parking Is Too Much?

Capital BuildingHow much parking is too much? For housing near transit stops, more than one per dwelling, according to the California Infill Builders Association.  They are sponsoring a bill in this year’s California Legislative Session, AB 710, authored by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, that would prohibit cities and counties from requiring the builders provide more than one off-street parking space per dwelling unit, or more than one off-street parking space per 1,000 sq.ft. of floor area for nonresidential uses, in areas near transit.

Why is this a big deal? Well, off-street parking is expensive and adds a lot to the cost of development.  Builders can show that building off-street parking spaces can cost from $2,500 to $25,000 each, depending on whether the parking is part of surface lot, or in an underground or above-ground garage.  The costs vary a lot because land costs differ so much between different parts of California.  But there is no question that off-street parking is expensive and adds to the cost of developing housing and other buildings near transit. Read more