May 6, 2021 - News

Twin Cities move to ditch all parking minimums for developers

Illustration of a pencil eraser erasing the lines in a parking lot.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Minneapolis and St. Paul city councils are moving closer to eliminating parking minimums.

How it works: Both cities currently require developers to include a certain number of parking stalls within most buildings outside of their downtowns. Proposals in both cities would allow developers to include as little parking as they want.

Why it matters: Supporters say doing away with minimums will make housing more affordable and reduce vehicle ownership and use. Opponents say it will lead to jammed on-street parking in their neighborhoods and business districts.]

"We know that parking minimums can result in inflated housing costs, particularly for lower income households," Minneapolis Planning Project Manager Joe Bernard said at a public hearing this week.

  • Structured parking — parking within a building — costs in the ballpark of $30,000 per stall. That can be a sizable amount when the all-in cost to build an apartment typically ranges from $150,000 to $250,000 per unit.

Yes, but: This doesn't mean developers will just start putting up buildings without parking.

  • Downtown Minneapolis hasn't had parking minimums for years and most developers still include plenty of parking in their buildings.

Flashback: Minneapolis has been easing parking rules bit by bit, most notably along transit corridors.

  • A big reduction in parking requirements for small commercial buildings in 2009 has been credited with leading to a boom in neighborhood restaurants over the past 12 years.
  • A 2015 loosening of requirements for apartment buildings on transit corridors has helped drop the ratio of stalls per unit in new projects, from around 1 stall per apartment in 2011 to 0.76 stalls per unit in 2020.

What's happening: A Minneapolis committee unanimously approved the elimination of minimums on Tuesday and the full City Council will vote on the measure May 14.

  • The St. Paul Planning Commission had a hearing on its ordinance on April 30 and is still collecting feedback.

Of note: The Minneapolis ordinance also puts a maximum on the number of parking stalls a developer can build, at 1.5 stalls per unit downtown and on transit corridors, and 2 stalls per unit elsewhere.

  • It also requires most new buildings to have electric vehicle charging capabilities at 10% of their stalls.

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