Above: A parking ramp sits at the base of Loring Park's LPM apartment tower
Aiming to reduce housing costs and encourage non-car transportation, a proposal headed to the Minneapolis planning commission Monday would nix parking requirements for developments near the city's busiest streets.
The proposal, introduced by Council Member Lisa Bender, would tie residential parking minimums outside of downtown to the proximity to frequent bus or rail service. That would -- in some cases -- eliminate or halve the city's typical one-spot-per-unit minimum requirement.
Under existing rules, developers can obtain a 10 percent parking reduction (to .9 spots per unit) if they are within 300 feet of a transit service with 30-minute midday frequencies. The proposal would eliminate the minimum entirely for developments within 350 feet of transit with 15-minute frequency.
Whether the change will lead to zero-parking development remains to be seen, however, since commercial lenders often insist on parking before financing a project. Most developments downtown, which has no parking minimums, still include a substantial amount of parking.
RELATED: Minneapolis looks at easing parking space restrictions (Feb. 1, 2015)
But the new ordinance would allow for a new breed of parking-free housing outside of downtown, which could reduce project costs -- and potentially rents, if developers pass on the savings. Developers now pay up to $25,000 per stall to build underground parking garages, which also require the accompanying building have a larger footprint.
As with most things related to parking, the change is likely to be somewhat controversial. Discussion of the ordinance on e-democracy.org included mixed opinions, with several commenters concerned about building residents instead clogging on-street parking spots in neighborhoods.
The ordinance has different requirements based on building size and distance to high-frequency transit (see city graphic below). The parking minimum would be eliminated for developments within 350 feet of qualifying transit stops. A quarter-mile away, buildings under 50 units would have no parking requirement, while buildings containing 51 units or more could reduce the minimum by half.
A map attached to the city staff report shows that the 100% elimination would apply to developments around most of the city's major streets -- where transit is frequent. See light blue areas on the attached image below (yellow signifies a smaller reduction). The University Area, which has different parking standards, is exempted from the change.
Other cities have reduced required parking around transit, including Portland, Seattle and Salt Lake City. Minneapolis' twin city, St. Paul, eliminated all parking requirements within a quarter mile of Green Line stops. Outside downtown St. Paul, developments in some targeted neighborhoods get a 25 percent reduction from the one-to-one requirement.
The city planning commission will hold the first public hearing on the measure at their meeting tonight, which begins at 4:30 p.m. It will then head to the City Council, where it will likely be heard at the zoning and planning committee.