On March 19th, San Diego’s City Council re-affirmed a decision to eliminate minimum parking requirements within 1/2 mile of planned or existing transit stops, zones they call Transit Priority Areas (TPAs). The new rules also require developers to provide transportation demand management (TDM) benefits when they build in the TPAs. The amount of TDM benefits varies depending on factors like how dense the new development is and how close it is to transit-accessible jobs.
TDM is required for all new buildings, whether parking is provided or not and the parking reform package requires that any stall built be unbundled from the lease or purchase of housing units in the building. There is an exemption granted for the TDM and unbundling requirements if the building contains a minimum of 20% on-site units affordable for people making 50% or less of the average median income.
In downtown, the new policy bundle flipped it so developers can’t build more parking than they previously were required to build as a minimum amount (with a few mitigating exemptions).
The reforms passed an initial council vote on March 4th and there was some opposition and threat of legal action from a local attorney, Cory Briggs, on behalf of a group called “Citizens for Responsible, Economical and Environmental Development” or CREED-21. Briggs’ threats prompted a thoughtful op-ed prior to the second vote by Maya Rosas and Brendan Dentino from YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County.
Overall this is a very good example of parking reform. The parking exemptions themselves are aggressive for a scheme based on transit proximity. Allowing for exemptions within 1/2 mile is great and allowing them near transit stops that are planned within the next 30 years (!!!) is even better. The TDM requirements apply evenly and the amount is increased for areas that are further away from transit and amenities, which is the proper way to do it.
San Diegans should look into developing good on-street parking management programs for areas which might be impacted by spillover parking due to the new rules. When development without parking starts to come online, neighbors will be angry and the city should be prepared with residential permit programs and performance-based metering. Residents won’t be happy to have to pay for parking, but at least city staff and officials will have a ready answer to their complaints.