Apr 18, 2023 - Real Estate

Planning Commission advances measure to end Richmond's parking minimums

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A proposal to strike minimum parking requirements from the city's zoning code took a step forward Monday.

What’s happening: After an impassioned public hearing, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to advance the measure.

Why it matters: Will Richmond continue mandating car-centric development or embrace dense, urban growth?

  • The answer city leaders land on has the potential to shape the city for decades to come.

Catch up fast: City zoning rules set minimum parking requirements for almost every kind of development. Officials say eliminating those rules will encourage the redevelopment of surface parking lots and lower the cost of building housing.

What they’re saying: "The parking minimums have contributed to urban sprawl, lack of abundant and affordable housing, and automobile dependency," writes the city's planning department, which is backing the changes.

  • They say parking requirements in their current form are a relatively new development, dating back to 1960, and note many of the city’s most popular neighborhoods — Church Hill, the Fan, Jackson Ward — couldn't be built under the city’s current rules.

The other side: Opponents argue a city-wide abolition of minimums is inappropriate given the city's limited public transit infrastructure. And some said they like having plenty of parking.

  • "One of the major benefits to living and working in Richmond is the fact that it is so accessible by automobile," wrote the Westhampton Citizens Association, which represents an array of West End neighborhoods.

Of note: Developers will still be able to include as many parking spaces as they want in their projects, and the city says for now, most projects actually exceed the city's minimum requirements.

What’s next: The proposal goes to the Richmond City Council for a final vote.

  • At least one council member, Katherine Jordan, has already expressed reservations, signaling she'll seek to exempt neighborhoods that have already created parking districts.

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