Cambridge, Massachusetts, is joining the movement of other U.S. cities that have abolished parking minimums citywide for new buildings. The Cambridge City Council voted 8-1 recently to amend the city’s zoning ordinance and set all minimum parking requirements for new building developments to zero.
The city’s zoning rules previously required new residential developments to set aside at least one off-street parking space for every housing unit. With the recent zoning change, Cambridge is the first city in Massachusetts to abolish parking minimums, though Somerville and Boston have also tweaked their zoning codes to limit the number of parking spaces needed for new developments. Supporters of the change in Cambridge say that eliminating the parking minimums will allow developers to build more housing and make rent for the units more affordable.
Cambridge set a goal in 2014 to decrease car ownership by 15 percent by 2020 based on 1990 rates, but the city actually saw it increase by 6.5 percent. Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Nashville, Tennessee, are among other U.S. cities that have entirely abolished parking minimums. The movement to abolish parking minimums has spread nationwide for several reasons, including the costs the minimum requirements add to housing development. Some analysts estimate the cost to make one surface parking space at roughly $5,000 and up to $50,000 per space in large, multi-level garages.