Raleigh Looks to Eliminate Parking Minimums - Durham Should Too

I came across a proposed change in the code for our neighbors to the southeast.

If the change passes, Raleigh will be only one of a handful of cities across the country that have effectively eliminated minimum parking requirements. This would be exciting and hopefully a step towards Durham doing the same.

I wanted to point out two interesting aspects of the proposal, which can be found here.

The "Whereases"
I LOVE the "whereas" section. In legal documents, there are usually a bunch of "whereas" statements that give background on existing conditions. Whoever wrote this document used it as a place to disparage parking minimum requirements:

WHEREAS, the Unified Development Ordinance specifies minimum vehicle parking requirements for certain uses; and

WHEREAS, minimum vehicle parking requirements act as a subsidy for driving, which leads to more miles driven, increased carbon emissions, and worsened community health; and

WHEREAS, minimum vehicle parking requirements increase the cost of housing and the cost of goods and services,

WHEREAS, minimum vehicle parking requirements create an inequitable burden to residents who cannot afford or choose to do without cars,

WHEREAS, minimum vehicle parking requirements can lead to the creation of unnecessary parking spaces, adding impervious surfaces and creating other unintended consequences;

WHEREAS, large amounts of vehicle parking undermine walkability, degrade the urban landscape, create “heat island” effects, contribute to climate change, and

WHEREAS, concerns about “spillover” parking can be addressed by residential parking permit districts and other targeted strategies; 

What a great list. I am definitely saving this list and may use it in future discussions!

Min to Max
The way Raleigh is proposing this change is interesting. They are not eliminating references to parking. Instead, they are flipping minimums to maximums. They have a table that currently shows minimum number of parking spaces for different uses like single family homes, multifamily, different businesses, office uses, manufacturing, etc.

The proposal shows that the column that used to say "min" now says "max". Looking through the table, there are lots of uses that are changed to "no maximum". And for apartments, the maximums are so high that it is unlikely that a developer would construct that much parking. That said, this approach does create the opportunity to change maximums more easily in the future.

Raleigh's proposal has also caught the attention of the Parking Reform Network, the preeminent national organization fighting parking minimums. Durham should be following this proposal closely. I certainly will be!

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