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LETTER: Reducing parking requirements improves housing affordability

Your recent editorial claims “loss of parking spaces limits tenants’ options.”

Your recent editorial claims “loss of parking spaces limits tenants’ options.”

In reality, it is car-free households that currently have their options limited. The editorial writer doesn’t seem to accept the reality of car-free households, but according to the 2017 CRD Household Travel Survey, 20 per cent of Victoria households don’t own a car. That’s about 10,000 car-free households just in the City of Victoria (and the report estimated 17,000 car-free households across the whole region).

Currently, upwards of 95 per cent of rental buildings in Victoria include parking, so the 80 per cent of Victoria households that do have cars, still have plenty of housing options. However the 20 per cent of households that are car-free currently have very limited options for housing where they don’t have to pay for parking that they don’t use. By eliminating parking requirements in future residential developments, council is attempting to create a better balance between demand for parking and supply. After decades of forcing developers to build a specified amount of parking for each apartment, regardless of the actual market, there is currently an oversupply: in many rental buildings a significant number of parking spaces sit empty or are rented out to non-residents. Meanwhile, a parking space can add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of building a rental unit.

Victoria is not alone in this. A major shift now seems to be happening across North America, away from minimum parking requirements for new buildings. Hundreds of cities have eliminated parking requirements in their downtown cores, and dozens more have eliminated parking requirements city-wide. California is eliminating minimum parking requirements across the state, for developments near transit.

Reducing parking requirements will improve affordability and equity, help to fight climate change, and help to create a built environment that is more welcoming to people.

Steven Murray