Item 22 - Parking Mandate Reform Resolution

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Natalie Deller
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2022 3:12 pm

Item 22 - Parking Mandate Reform Resolution

Post by Natalie Deller »

On behalf of Council Member Qadri:


I want to thank Council Member Velásquez and his cosponsors for bringing forward the resolution we approved on April 13th to initiate the elimination of parking mandates for cocktail lounge uses in our land development code. There’s a chasm of dissonance between our Vision Zero goals of eliminating deaths and severe injuries from automobile crashes and our outdated rules that require bars to make costly accommodations for people to drive to and from their establishments. I commend my colleagues for recognizing this and taking action to resolve it.

In the past decade, previous Councils have adopted ambitiously progressive goals for affordability, mobility, safety, sustainability, and even how the contours of our city are shaped. I know that this Council enthusiastically wants to reach those goals but one of the biggest roadblocks in our way is Austin’s nearly 40-year-old land development code. While a comprehensive rewrite isn’t currently feasible, we all agree that certain revisions can and must be made.

That’s why I, along with my cosponsoring colleagues, Vanessa Fuentes, Ryan Alter, Leslie Pool, and Paige Ellis, have brought forward a resolution – Item 22 on our May 4 agenda ( ... eg.htm#022) – directing the interim city manager to eliminate minimum off-street parking mandates citywide. We worked on this resolution after robust engagement with advocates, city staff, and other stakeholders including ADAPT of Texas. Let me be clear: This would not erase a single existing parking space in Austin, nor would it lead to an explosion in parking-free developments. In fact, in 2013, parking mandates were removed in our Central Business District, and virtually every new development since then has included ample parking.

Cities across the country, including Anchorage, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Buffalo, Salem, Ore., and Fayetteville, Ark., have already taken this progressive step towards a more affordable, sustainable, and accessible environment. Those communities recognized that regulations that arbitrarily mandate space for vehicle storage negatively impact efforts to mitigate car dependency, sprawl, and carbon emissions. Our own Austin Strategic Mobility Plan acknowledges that “Minimum parking requirements have resulted in an overabundance of parking in many locations throughout Austin and have continued to encourage people to drive to their destination. These parking spaces are expensive to build and maintain, and promote automobile use even when short trips can be easily accessed by walking, bicycling, or by taking transit.” And with the estimated cost of constructing a single parking space somewhere between $10,000 and $25,000, our own regulations are adding burdens to affordability that are passed on to buyers and renters.

Instead of using dubious formulas to mandate how much parking is included in every new development, I believe we should allow individual property owners to decide what levels are appropriate. Until we realize the robust transit, biking, and sidewalk investments our voters have overwhelmingly approved, I also believe that those property owners will continue to build parking into new projects. In the meantime, I do not think it is appropriate for our code to presume that every adult will need a place at every destination in which to store their car while at the same time, our own stated goals envision a community where more people get around on trains, buses, bikes, feet, and other means.

Importantly, our resolution accounts for projects that would move forward without any parking. Under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, those projects would not trigger accessible parking requirements. That’s why we want to explore strategies that allow for accessible parking spaces either on-street or reasonably nearby along accessible routes. While it’s true that people with disabilities are less likely to travel by car, it is our duty to ensure that those who do have their needs accounted for.

There are other tools in the toolbox when it comes to addressing parking concerns in our city, not least of which is the creation of parking management districts similar to the one we just approved along South Congress Avenue. In the coming months, my team and I will be exploring those options and bringing forward new policies that will address concerns and effect solutions to help us reach our ambitious aspirations. I appreciate your consideration on this item and am available to answer any questions you may have.


Policy Advisor
Office of Council Member Zo Qadri, District 9
Jose Chito Vela
Posts: 80
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2022 8:16 am

Re: Item 22 - Parking Mandate Reform Resolution

Post by Jose Chito Vela »

CM Qadri,

Thank you for bringing this excellent item! I would like to be added as a co-sponsor. As we see more and more people walk, bike, rideshare, telecommute and use transit, we simply do not need the amount of parking that our antiquated code requires us to build. And requiring so much parking crowds out housing and raises its cost.

I look forward to working with you to make Austin the compact and connected city our residents want.

Jose Velasquez
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2023 2:35 pm

Re: Item 22 - Parking Mandate Reform Resolution

Post by Jose Velasquez »

CM Qadri—

I am excited to see these conversations surrounding parking mandates continue and evolve into a more comprehensive approach. I would also like to be added as a co-sponsor. Steep parking requirements means taking up additional space, adding unnecessary costs to construction projects, and runs contrary to our city's goals of promoting multimodal transportation. Thank you for bringing forward this much-needed change to our LDC.

José Velásquez
Council Member, District 3