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Austin City Council to consider eliminating minimum parking requirements

Here’s what that could mean for the fabric of the urban landscape.

A close-up of a parking sign downtown

Minimum parking requirements haven’t existed in Downtown Austin since 2013.

Photo by ATXtoday

Much like that bad parallel parking job, Austin’s parking requirements may soon be readjusted.

Next week, the Austin City Council is expected to consider ending minimum parking requirements citywide. That might not sound like much to those who don’t closely follow city ordinances, but it could mean big changes for the fabric of the urban landscape. Let’s break it down.

First of all, why?

Cutting parking requirements could benefit the city in multiple ways. Parking is expensive for developers, who currently have a minimum number of spaces they’re expected to provide, and that influences the cost of housing.

Those asphalt rectangles also take up space with a material that traps heat, doesn’t allow rainwater to permeate, and doesn’t provide a service for residents — just their cars.

Minimum requirements have already been removed in Downtown Austin for a decade, and the city started looking at parking requirements for bars just a few weeks ago, in an attempt to improve safety in ATX’s drinking districts.

Ok, but where will people park?

Possibly, nowhere.

The idea — at least, the long-term vision of activists in the field — is that less parking encourages people to walk or take public transportation, both of which also reduce carbon emissions. (In case you’re wondering, here’s an update on the status of Project Connect.)

Of course, businesses can still choose to add parking, and don’t worry, street parking will still exist.

What’s the timeline?

The Austin City Council is expected to review the resolution on Thursday, May 4. As it’s currently written, the resolution would require a draft ordinance by the end of this year.

Do you have thoughts? Share your input with the City Council themselves or let us know what you think.