Legalize Car-Free Buildings

Minimum parking requirements for residential, office, and mixed-use developments represent a hidden tax on non-drivers that subsidizes drivers. This regressive subsidy has no place in a city that has been struggling for the last eight years to reduce solo-driving and promote multi-modal transportation choices.

About a third of Philadelphians either don’t have the means to own a vehicle or simply don’t want to own one, and this is especially true of the Millennials and Baby Boomers who have been moving here in recent years. If home builders want to sell someone only a house — without an unwanted parking space bundled in — they should have the freedom to do that.

Mandating on-site parking minimums also weakens one of the region's greatest assets: SEPTA. Mandatory parking minimums exist right up against subway, regional rail, trolley, and bus stops. Rather than encourage Philadelphians to use our (quickly improving) transit network, we are discouraging them from using it. 

And listen, if developers want to build on-site parking, and if the market supports it, then that's what they'll do — but only as much as people are willing to pay. People who don’t own vehicles should not be forced to subsidize their neighbors’ parking.

The 2012 zoning reforms were a good first step, eliminating mandatory parking minimums for single family homes, and reducing them in some other building categories. But the job’s still not done. Parking is still mandated for all categories of mixed-use buildings — exactly the types of buildings that home builders are targeting to low-car and no-car Millennials and Baby Boomers.

We are asking Mayoral and City Council candidates to finish the job and eliminate all mandatory parking minimums from the zoning code.

Showing 3 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • commented 2015-04-16 12:00:38 -0400
    Parking is a finite resource. It should be difficult to find a cheap spot. Easy parking should be expensive.

    The parking “problems” that neighborhoods like no-libs and fairmount are facing are directly due to grossly underpriced street parking.
  • commented 2015-02-10 16:40:18 -0500
    After spending some time watching all the new construction in my area I’ve flipped to agreeing with you. The mandatory parking is destroying the city character of neighborhoods with lots of new development… fenced off parking lots, private driveways, garages… little suburban islands where communal streets and sidewalks should be.

    I’m still concerned about increasing residential density dumping more private cars on crammed public streets, but perhaps there are other ways of tackling that. I really don’t like seeing so much public space gobbled up by (nearly) free storage of private cars. Maybe an alternative counterweight to that could be drastically increasing the cost of residential parking permits with the revenue earmarked for public transit and bicycle infrastructure? There could be a sliding scale for low income residents but folks buying expensive new condos can afford a $500/year parking permit to store their car on our streets.
  • commented 2015-01-12 20:38:42 -0500
    In Northern Liberties every inch of unused lot or business is being torn down for multi-unit housing. If developers are given “the freedom” to build residence without parking, doesn’t the mean they absolutely will to cut costs, profit on selling the house, and dump the parking needs of their new customers on city streets?

    If data was collected on how many residents have cars vs don’t have cars and how that’s been changing over the years, I could be convinced that reducing the ratio of parking to housing required is warranted to accommodate those (myself included) that don’t want/need a parking spot. But dropping the requirements entirely seems like a giveaway to developers that ultimately will be paid for with the space on our public streets.