City Council’s Zeal for Affordable Housing Crumbles If It Means Less Parking

On Tuesday, members of the City Council hammered the de Blasio administration for not guaranteeing enough housing units for low-income New Yorkers in new construction. But yesterday, when the topic turned to building more affordable housing by reducing parking requirements, several Council members lost their zeal for housing and worried more about car storage.

The mayor is proposing the elimination of parking requirements in new affordable housing projects within the designated "transit zone," in purple: Image: DCP
The proposed “transit zone” where parking requirements for subsidized housing would no longer apply. Image: DCP

The hearing yesterday was about the City Hall proposal called “Zoning for Quality and Affordability,” or ZQA for short. One exciting aspect of ZQA is that it would reduce mandatory parking minimums for subsidized housing in a large swath of the city — freeing up space and resources to house people instead of cars. It’s not as exciting as eliminating all parking minimums everywhere, but it’s the single largest reform proposed for the city’s parking requirements in a long time.

Yesterday, Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been and City Planning Commission Chair Carl Weisbrod answered questions from council members about ZQA. The same chamber that the day before was so passionate about providing sufficient housing for less affluent New Yorkers suddenly seemed willing to compromise the construction of affordable residences in order to preserve the guaranteed construction of parking.

Following the lead of community boards, most council members who spoke yesterday seemed convinced that reducing parking requirements would be a burden on their constituents. Several of them wanted to keep their districts out of the “transit zone,” the area where parking requirements would no longer apply to subsidized housing. They often cited the inadequacy of transit in their districts as a reason to oppose the parking reforms, even though parking requirements make surface transit worse by pumping more traffic onto the streets.

Been and Weisbrod repeatedly emphasized that the overwhelming majority of parking spots in subsidized housing developments are unused. “We’re not saying that, in a given area, a housing provider can’t provide parking to its residents,” Weisbrod said. “We’re simply saying that we shouldn’t require it when we know and they know that it wouldn’t be utilized and those funds could better be used for other purposes — for affordable housing and, even more importantly, the space could be used for either affordable housing or open space or other community amenities.”

A major question going forward is whether City Hall and the council will water down the parking reforms before a vote on ZQA. If that happens, there will be no vote and no public record of council members’ positions on the proposal as it exists today. So here’s a record of what City Council members said about parking minimums at the hearing.

Zoning and Franchises Committee Chair Donovan Richards (Southeast Queens) 

Photo: NYC Council

“In Queens you can get to Florida by plane just as quickly as you can get to Manhattan,” said Richards. While questioning Been and Weisbrod, he suggested that some neighborhoods in the transit zones did not have “reliable” transportation options. “Certainly there would be some adverse impacts on some of the particular transit zones you’ve presented,” he said. “So this is a continuous conversation but we’re certainly hoping that you’re open to refining some of the transit zones as we move forward.”

Land Use Committee Chair David Greenfield (Midwood)

Photo: NYC Council

Greenfield argued that higher-income residents of affordable housing would want to own cars. “I trust that most seniors don’t have cars and certainly it’s a better use on senior affordable housing to build units then it is to build parking spots,” Greenfield said. “[Families in development catering to higher adjusted median incomes] will have cars, you’re not building parking spots for these families, which means that we’re going to have more cars in the streets and more competition for cars.”

Public Advocate Letitia James

Public Advocate Tish James

James implied that the area where parking reforms would apply should shrink. “I believe that the transit zones should be adjusted to take into account local conditions in each particular district,” she said. She also said that instead of letting projects proceed without parking, “each and every application would have to go to the community board not for approval but for review.”

Antonio Reynoso (North Brooklyn)

Photo: NYC Council

Reynoso told Been that he understands the impetus behind the elimination of parking requirements, but that it would be a tough sell to his constituents in Williamsburg and Bushwick, which he said are not “transit rich.” “It’s extremely difficult for me to make the argument against parking when the transportation infrastructure is in dire need of repair,” Reynoso said. “You can’t win the parking argument when hundreds of thousands of new residents are coming into the neighborhood and the transportation infrastructure that we currently have is unchanged.” He called on Been to “help me make the argument against that.”

Mark Treyger (Southern Brooklyn)

District47_TreygerTreyger was emphatic in his opposition to the current transit zone and shifted the conversation to various transit-related slights against his district.
“This is a neighborhood that lost the F express,” he said. “That lost X28 on Saturdays, that lost the X29, was left out of the mayor’s ferry plan, was left out of the fancy streetcar plan, and quite frankly we are in a transportation desert in many cases in southern Brooklyn. How do you move masses of people around?”

Andrew Cohen (Northwest Bronx)

City Council District 11 candidate Andrew Cohen. Photo: ## for Council##

Cohen’s district is almost entirely outside of the transit zone, but he opposed the map anyway “because it’s not a process locally generated.” He equated the elimination of parking mandates with stranding elderly residents. “Asking seniors to use the subway more often in my district where I have an elevated train that’s inaccessible,” he said. “I have one elevator on the whole 1 line in the Bronx. It’s not a practical solution, so lumping this into a transit zone makes no sense and I think if you have come to the community board they would have told you that in advance before we got this far.”

Vanessa Gibson (Morrisania, Highbridge, Melrose)

district16_gibsonGibson said she had met with affordable housing developers in her Bronx district who had shifted her perspective on the elimination of parking minimums. She nevertheless challenged the extent of the transit zone and the reduction in parking mandates. “I’m not as opposed to it,” she said, “But I do think for those new units, especially of mixed-income, I certainly think we should provide some incentive to provide parking. I don’t think any of us realized how expensive it is to build parking across our city and looking at the transit zones — we’ve talked a lot about that, the low car ownership, the unused spaces — certainly we want to maximize on the number of units.” She said allowing car-free developments up to half a mile from high-frequency transit was too wide a radius. Gibson added: “I don’t want to assume just because you’re in an affordable unit, you may not be able to buy a car in the future. We want you to be able to purchase a car at some point.”

Margaret Chin (Lower Manhattan)

MC_headshot1Chin, whose district already has no parking minimums, was one of the few council members to support the reforms. “The people in our city deserve to know that they can grow old here, in the neighborhood that they helped to build,” she said. “And I believe strongly in the stated goals of ZQA to make building affordable units and senior facilities easier by providing a flexible building envelope and reducing parking requirements.”

Peter Koo (Flushing)


Koo said the plan was “too ambitious” and questioned the logic of the parking reforms. “Although downtown Flushing is considered a transit zone, public transportation [there] is not enough,” he told Weisbrod and Been. “Buses are overcrowded and the 7 train constantly has service disruptions. Seniors who have visited my office cannot walk one block without assistance, let alone half a mile which is the distance of a transit zone.” Weisbrod said he understood Koo’s concerns, and emphasized that the majority of Koo’s district except for downtown Flushing is outside of the transit zone.

Brad Lander (Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Borough Park)

d39landerLander commended the affordable housing developer LiveOn NY for its work at the Bishop Boardman senior apartments in Park Slope. He pointed out that the parking lot serving the apartments is always empty and should be repurposed for more housing.
“We really want new senior housing and we want it soon and we’d like to build it and that parking lot is empty most of the time,” Lander said. “So please keep 8th Avenue and 16th Street in the transit zone however it is defined or changed.”

  • BBnet3000

    Why is Bay Ridge not included in this plan?

  • mikecherepko

    Reynoso’s constituents mostly don’t have cars. It seems he spends too much time talking to his community board members, who do, instead of his constituents.

    If he needs to make the case, how about this: “You guys mostly have cars. Most people in my district don’t. I come to these community board meetings every month and I hear you say that you want more affordable housing every time. So do I. This is how we can get some. I’d rather subsidize housing for people than housing for cars.”

  • mikecherepko

    “In Queens you can get to Florida by plane just as quickly as you can get to Manhattan,” -Donovan Richards

    Too many of these politicians seem to think that seniors need to be able to commute to and from Manhattan every day. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say commuting to full time jobs in Manhattan isn’t that important to people in affordable senior housing.

  • Joe R.

    Amazing NYC forces private developers to build parking in the first place, especially when it already gives away tons of parking for free on public streets. Unsubsidized mandates like this rarely make sense unless they serve some overriding public good. I fail to see how encouraging auto ownership in a place like NYC serves any larger public purpose.

  • Pat

    “Seniors who have visited my office cannot walk one block without assistance”. Sounds like they don’t have adequate motor skills to walk through a parking lot or garage and drive either.

  • reasonableexplanation

    One of the benefits parking requirements provide is a quality of life one for legacy residents in a fast developing neighborhood. It doesn’t mean they’re always appropriate, just like they’re not completely worthless.

    A case I’m familiar with is the relatively rapid addition of tons of housing to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. There, even with parking requirements, (given that its south brooklyn), many households have car(s), and the sheer quantity of people circling for parking at any time of day is pretty terrible, especially when compared to about 10 years ago, before the new housing was added. Not fun for many legacy residents.

    Now, if you’re looking at parking minimums somewhere like manhattan, perhaps they don’t make that much sense there.

    I guess my point is, maybe a case by case (or neighborhood by neighborhood) policy is appropriate here.

  • Joe R.

    I still don’t get it. If there is a rapid influx of new residents who want to have cars but have no place to park them, wouldn’t private industry fill that role by building parking garages? Or perhaps the developers would voluntarily provide parking in their buildings, knowing a fair number of residents moving in would be willing to pay enough for that parking so the developer at least breaks even on the extra it costs them.

    Required parking minimums on the other hand compel builders to make parking, even when there might not be demand for it in a given building, then spread the cost among all the tenants.

    Sure, parking minimums aren’t worthless to those who have cars. They get parking at a fraction of the market rate. The problem is everyone else is paying for it. The issue here is for decades NYC has provided parking for free. People don’t like to pay for something they previously got for free. NYC has to eventually transition to market-rate parking for everyone. If we don’t, we’ll continue to have too much traffic, too much car ownership. Getting rid of parking minimums is a good place to start. This doesn’t mean new developments will never have parking. Rather, they’ll have as much parking as there are people willing to pay market rates for it.

    Incidentally, Brighton Beach is a transit rich neighborhood. Hard to make a case there that we need to worry about making parking easier for legacy residents. Maybe in eastern Queens or Brooklyn you might make the case, but even here I seriously question how many people who own cars could get by without them with really minor lifestyle changes.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    The obvious solution to circling the block for 15 minutes to find a pace to store one’s private property space on a public street is to stop being a cheapskate and go pay for parking off street. The PRICE mechanism is a brilliant way to allocate scare R resresources

  • reasonableexplanation

    wouldn’t private industry fill that role by building parking garages?

    Well, apparently not. I think a single parking garage has been built in Brighton over the last ten years for example (in a gated development, mostly to serve the crowds that come to the theater across the street). Part of the reason may be the lack of tax breaks for that type of construction vs a multi story building with a ‘public use’ aspect (usually a doctor’s office, in that neighborhood).

    Required parking minimums on the other hand compel builders to make parking, even when there might not be demand for it

    Correct, which is why the minimums should be set up where there IS a demand for it, like there. That’s my main argument for ‘case by case.’ If you look on light poles on Brighton (or in much of the denser parts of south broklyn), you see people putting up flyers looking to rent a parking space from someone who has one (usually a carless coop/condo owner). The going rate is about $150/month there, and based on the number of flyers I’ve seen, the demand exceeds supply.

    Brighton Beach is a transit rich neighborhood

    Sure, if you’re going to manhattan. Not so much for anywhere else, really. E.g. Brighton-Bay Ridge is over an hour by public transit.

  • reasonableexplanation

    I don’t live there, but about half of the streets on Brighton (including the avenue itself, of course) is metered parking. (Note, I support smart meters, but that likely won’t happen for a while).

    As for paid parking: people will gladly pay for parking in Brighton, if it was availible! I wrote the following to Joe below:

    If you look on light poles on Brighton (or in much of the denser parts of south brooklyn), you see people putting up flyers looking to rent a parking space from someone who has one (usually a carless coop/condo owner). The going rate is about $150/month there, and based on the number of flyers I’ve seen, the demand exceeds supply.

  • Joe R.

    I think you hit on the reason why nobody is building garages—namely the “going” rate of $150/month. This isn’t enough for a private garage to make money. The going rate is too low as evidenced by the fact demand exceeds supply. The idea here is to keep raising the price until demand equals supply. The cost of supply is dictated by whatever it costs over there to build and operate a garage. I really have no idea of the number. It’s evidently higher than $150/month. Let’s say it turns out to be $600/month. At that point you’ll find people willing to build garages, provided NYC doesn’t undercut them by offering free curbside parking, or developers don’t undercut them by building parking but offering it to residents at less than cost. Of course, lots of car owners will balk at paying $600/month. Many will get rid of their cars. At that point the number of cars will match the available parking, all of which would be the market rate of $600/month. This is how supply and demand works for virtually every good or service. The chronic parking shortages which exist in lots of NYC neighborhoods wouldn’t exist with market-priced parking. Of course, that would also mean lots of people who might want cars either couldn’t afford them, or just won’t want to pay that much for parking. I’m not seeing why that would be an issue. NYC has abundant public transit. If you’re going somewhere not amenable to public transit, you have the option to take a car service, or rent a car. It’s not like not being able to own a car will prevent you from going places public transit can’t easily reach.

    I have a friend there who lives in an apartment complex which offers parking to residents at $50/month. He says lots of people complain about the years-long waiting list to get a spot. I told him the answer is easy. Keep raising the price until there is no waiting list. As the price goes up, more and more people will take their name off the list, or give up their spot if they have one, until the number of spots matches the number of people will to pay. The issue here is NYC by definition has a shortage of space. In Nebraska everyone can park as many cars as they want for free. NYC isn’t Nebraska. We charge plenty for the space people occupy in apartments. It should be exactly the same for their vehicles.

  • c2check

    Reynoso is my councilman, and I’ve generally been pleased with him. He’ll get a letter about this one though 😉

  • c2check

    There’s a vicious cycle rolling on:

    There’s no good transit
    Driving is made easy
    More people drive
    More people move into the neighborhood
    Even more people drive
    Transit gets worse
    Even more people drive
    Road congestion

    Somehow we have to break the cycle.

  • mikecherepko

    I wrote him one when ZQA was before the city planning commission. He is better than many council members.

  • reasonableexplanation

    I’m not sure that works in this case, at least in the short to medium term.

    The current situation is: there’s a demand for garage space. Some people have it as part of their coop/condo (apartments with parking go for more than those without). Many of those people use it for themselves. Those that don’t, rent it out (empty spots in building garages are rare). Presumably, those that already use their spot for themselves arent going to change their behavior if they were offered more than 150/month, since, theyd have to find another spot for their car too…

    New above ground private garages won’t be profitable compared to housing in many parts of NY because of the ever present housing shortage, so don’t expect any to be built even at 600+ prices. Garages in basements however, can work, since you can’t put apartments there anyway (and outside of really dense neighborhoods, retail doesn’t like those areas either). Reserving garage space for parking makes sense in a lot of places via parking minimums.

    Of course, that would also mean lots of people who might want cars either couldn’t afford them, or just won’t want to pay that much for parking. I’m not seeing why that would be an issue.

    Well, cars aren’t important to you, and that’s great, but simply making things expensive in an already expensive city like NY either separates the 1% from the rest even further, or just adds financial burden. E.g. Tokyo where the cars/person ratio is the same, despite the costs being far higher, the licensing requirements being far stricter, and old cheaper cars being de facto outlawed.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    betcha at $300 it would be easy to get a off street spot. The pricing mechanism Works perfectly fine

  • AlexWithAK

    What is most infuriating is that other cities that are much less dense and transit-rich than New York have eliminated parking requirements near transit, PERIOD, not just for affordable housing. That there is this much push back on such a modest proposal is insane and embarrassing.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Well yes, if you really want it. Just like you can offer 2x the rent for an apartment and that way live in any neighborhood… By that reasoning we don’t have a housing shortage in NYC, just people not willing to pay enough.

  • MR

    I think a lot of the debate on this topic gets lost in the difference between commutability with Manhattan and the reality of life in the outer boroughs. I recently moved to the Bronx and while commuting to work via public transit is not an issue (especially given the good service during rush hour), however, doing anything else on off hours, like shopping and entertainment is just not easy without a car and with kids in tow. I don’t want to take nearly an hour to get into Manhattan on the weekend to see a movie, verses being able to drive to a theater 15 minutes away. I realize that this is the product of my own choices as to where I live, but this is the reality for many people in these communities and this is why many people are upset by the proposal, because they know that others that move to these locales will feel the same way and want a car. Once they have a car, parking would be an issue on the street and parking garages might be able to charge huge rents, not to mention the traffic. In the end you will probably drive people to move to the suburbs and that can of course open more housing, but I think it is wrong to assume that the difficulty of having a car at that point would persuade people from not getting one because the quality of life in many of these areas would be weak without a car. Yes, there are people who live in these areas without a car, but survey any of them and see how many of them would prefer to have a car if it were possible for them, or how difficult their lives are without a car even though they manage. Personally, I don’t have a big issue with the plan, the city needs housing and these neighborhoods will go through some sort of change. However, I would favor a small map that would have no parking requirements and 30 to 40 story buildings anywhere within a 2 block radius of subway station versus saying that you can now how 8-10 story buildings over a huge area.

  • ahwr

    I still don’t get it. If there is a rapid influx of new residents who want to have cars but have no place to park them, wouldn’t private industry fill that role by building parking garages?

    No they wouldn’t. Because parking minimums are for existing residents. Not the people who move into the new developments. If you have a car but no garage you park on the street, competing with legacy residents who will then have more trouble finding a place to park. So they oppose new development. You can solve that street parking shortage with pricing, but then existing residents know that development means they have to pay more for parking. So they oppose development. You don’t like the idea of development in your neighborhood unless it’s preceded by transit expansion and reduced space for autos. Other people want control over what happens in their neighborhood too, even if you disagree with their goals or how they wish to reach them. Local support is considered important. Maybe you think it’s overvalued and want a benevolent dictator to overrule them. But that’s not how the city works right now. That means for now getting people to acquiesce to development is important, since that expansion of housing serves the public interest. Hence Larry Littlefield’s solution of a transition to paid street parking that grandfathers in existing residents for free, at least for some lengthy period (ten years?)

  • AlexWithAK

    It’s the same justification for expanding highways. The masses see a lack of available parking and erroneously believe the demand is fixed, so if you just add more parking spaces the problem is solved. Of course in reality, adding spaces (as with highway lanes) only entices more people to use them.

    Eliminating parking minimums across the entire city (forget just for affordable housing) within a half mile of subway stops should be a slam dunk. Other cities have done it. NYC should be a leader in this, not quibbling over the most modest of reforms.

  • HamTech87

    The BS express is running in Treyger’s district. Treyger never mentions Cuomo’s name in his complaints about MTA service cuts. The F Express, the X29, the X28? These are all part of MTA. And yet he only complains about De Blasio.

  • AlexWithAK

    Also, the F train is a relatively frequent line. To say his district has inadequate transit is laughable.

  • mikecherepko

    No one on city council has ever heard of another city. New York is too special.

  • mikecherepko

    Is this the worst possible outcome of having a hearing about the tradeoffs between requiring parking and affordable housing? ” I certainly think we should provide some incentive to provide parking. I don’t think any of us realized how expensive it is to build parking across our city”

  • rao

    I don’t think the mayor appreciates that a true transit zone needs transit that serves all trips well. A subway station on a radial line to the CBD and skeletal bus service is nowhere near adequate.

    I live in such a transit zone, and while getting to Manhattan is easy, the nearest crosstown bus only runs once every half hour. That’s transit-as-social-service, not transit-as-transportation. There is a decent bike route to Manhattan, but there are no protected bike lanes in the area and it’s uncomfortable and dangerous to bike from one neighborhood to the next. In fact, it’s such a pain in the neck to get to the next ‘hood over that I never go even though it has much better shopping and dining than where I live.

    I would not like to have a car–been there, done that, an enormous hassle and expense–but I would like much better bus service and much better bike lanes. I think this plan would be more palatable if it offered transit improvements to match the parking reductions.

  • Joe R.

    What you’re failing to understand is that basement parking is hideously expensive to build. Each time you go down another level costs go up by a factor or three. Somebody is paying for those parking spaces—namely the developer. And to make money the developer has to charge for that. Since the people in the building who own cars are unable/unwilling to pay the full extra cost of that parking, the burden is passed on to everyone in the building in the form of higher rents. That’s not even remotely fair. If I expected the other people on my block to pay for a storage room for stuff which doesn’t fit in my house most reasonable people would think I was wrong. Yet when the “stuff” is an automobile it seems to be just fine.

    Tokyo may well have a higher average income level than NYC. Perhaps without the disincentives there to own cars the ratio of cars to people would be much higher than NYC. The point though is if someone wants to own a car in a city where space is scarce, they should be paying the full cost of storing that car. If the end result of that is the 1% have cars but nearly nobody else does, and it bothers you, then there’s a democratic process to fix that, too. Make increasingly larger swaths of the city off-limits to private autos as is done in some European cities. When the majority don’t own cars, just the wealthy, this becomes a lot easier to do politically. The wealthy might still own cars even after you do this, but they’ll have to park them outside city limits, and use them outside the city.

  • Joe R.

    Suppose you stipulated that new development can’t have any parking and anyone signing a lease can’t have a car as part of the terms of the lease? That would work just as well but a developer wouldn’t be forced to build parking just to preserve spots for existing residents. At that point you start your residential parking system where you gradually transition to paid street parking. New residents would already know what they’re getting into before moving into a new development. If having a car is important to them, they could go elsewhere. My guess is the new buildings will still fill up. Lots of pent up demand nationally for urban dwellings and a car-free lifestyle.

  • Joe R.

    That’s the biggest mistake here, namely failing to push for more transit improvements. Everyone coming out against getting rid of parking minimums complains about “transit deserts”. Fine, but the solution isn’t to put a bandaid over that by indirectly subsidizing more car ownership. It’s to build better transit in these neighborhoods. And better biking facilities. A bike can largely substitute for a car for trips where local transit just doesn’t work.

    NYC worked just fine 75 or 100 years ago when almost nobody had private cars. Either transit filled the gap, or neighborhoods were set up so you could do everything on foot. We can and should return to that model.

  • Larry Littlefield

    There was a discussion about parking garages.

    While “accessory” parking is required in most parts of NYC, public parking garages are highly restricted. Any one of any size will require a special permit, and they are not allowed in residential or C1 (2/3 of local main streets) zones at all.

    You may recall there was a significant liberalization recently. For post 1961 development, renting out accessory parking to non-residents was illegal. That was widely ignored, except in public and subsidized housing developments (where the empty spaces are) and eventually done away with.

  • Flakker

    It’s so enraging to suffer through this reign of idiots. Let the actual poor subsidize the cars of the subsidized “poor”. It’s always someone else’s money, no matter how stupid the proposal.

  • AnoNYC

    Why is it that these people fail to realize that by providing parking you then encourage more people to own an automobile.

    That means MORE CONGESTION.

    Half a mile from a subway stop is appropriate, in fact I would add areas to the transit zone and make this a requirement for ALL new construction.

    Infurating. Especially coming from the mouths of representatives in mass transportation rich areas.

    BTW, if you think that mass transportation is a problems electeds, how about making it your priority instead of whining. Make suggestions for improved service within your constituency, support MoveNY, SBS, and a residential parking permit system.

  • AnoNYC

    Remember that if the city does not eliminate parking minimums in these areas, that does not mean that it will get any easier to park or drive. It’s still only going to get worse as more people move in or visit and park off site. We need to move away from subsidizing automobile ownership.

    The city council should support abolishing parking minimums and require an intensive focus on improving local mass transportation.

  • AnoNYC

    Yes It’s terrible and these people fail to realize that even if we maintain parking minimums, parking and congestion in this city is still going to only get worse regardless.

  • AnoNYC

    Why do these electeds fail to realize that the metropolitan area as a whole is growing, and is largely automobile dependent. The city of New York is also growing and many new residents and visitors will have their cars, not always parking on site. This means that congestion and parking will continue to be issues unless something changes.

    Eliminating parking minimums would discourage ownership within the city. That would provide more political firepower for non automotive policy like improving mass transportation.

  • AnoNYC

    Neighborhoods change, and in the case of NYC they are becoming more dense. Especially these areas targeted.

    By maintaining parking minimums, this does not guarantee legacy residents any place to park. What this does is guarantee some new residents a space off street. Now, these residents will obviously be using these vehicles and have to compete with older residents on street. And those new residents without off street parking? What about visitors?

    There’s already parking problems in NYC, and limited parking is only going to become more so regardless. Eliminating parking minimums only quickens this inevitability while maximizing development.

  • AnoNYC

    Every resident from a community parks on the street. Why own a car? You will be traveling to destinations, the vast majority of which in NYC will not provide parking.

    Parking minimums are useless and only increase ownership of personal automobiles.

  • AnoNYC

    He is also against upzoning sections of his district which are underutilized considering their proximity to rail rapid transit.

  • Joe R.

    The idea that every adult in NYC can get around by car was doomed to failure from the start. All one needs to do is look at what happens when a policy like this is in place in areas which are far less dense, like Long Island or non-rural parts of NJ. You have horrendous traffic issues, you have to set aside large swaths of land for parking (land which just doesn’t exist in NYC), you end up a prisoner in your automobile, you end up with streets too dangerous to walk or bike on. Only in rural areas does the model of every adult driving work fairly well. It’s problematic in suburban areas. It can’t work, period, in NYC. Anyone who tries to make people think otherwise is only doing them a disservice. If you carry that policy to its logical conclusion, then NYC ends up like Dallas—just a bunch of office parks connected by highways, with an overall density less than Long Island. That’s hardly what anyone would call a city.

    NYC needs policies which explicitly discourage new residents from purchasing cars in the first place, and nudge existing residents towards eventually getting rid of theirs. Only if we do that can we increase density without making traffic problems worse. Indeed, we might even improve them in the long term. Besides needing to massively improve transit, we should make biking faster/safer, get rid of car-oriented development here like big box stores with huge parking lots, charge fees to enter the most congested parts of all 5 boroughs (or better yet just prohibit private cars from these areas), eliminate parking minimums, institute parking maximums, eventually convert most curbside parking to loading zones/bus lanes/bike lanes, charge heavily for curbside parking wherever it’s not converted, etc.

    It should be massively expensive to own a car in NYC, plus massively inconvenient to get around in one. The only exceptions to that might be cars serving the disabled. Oh, and abolish our awful system of parking placards for government employees. If they really need a car for their duties, give them one with lights and sirens which can be parked as needed without issue. Let most of the rest who really don’t need to drive as part of their job find some other way to get around.

  • Miles Bader

    I think a bike is actually far superior to a car for many people with mobility problems…. Bikes can be ridden slowly and gently, and do not present a public hazard when operated in a way that respects one’s limits. A car, on the other hand, demands a non-trivial amount of skill and capability to be operated safely.

    Moreover, because bikes take far, far, less space, they’re much more amenable to the provision of close-in and convenient parking.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    precisely – Underpriced street Parking leads to abuse. the pricing mechanism is always the best solution. Socialist parking always leads to shortages


A Vote for Parking Minimums Is a Vote to Keep the Rent Too Damn High

[Editor’s note: With the City Council debating potential reforms to the city’s parking mandates today, we’re republishing this piece that originally ran in December. Stay tuned for coverage of the hearing later today.] Jimmy McMillan may have retired from politics, but the rent is still too damn high and New York City’s mandatory parking minimums are […]

If DCP Won’t Scrap Downtown BK Minimums, Is Broader Parking Reform Dead?

The proposed reduction of parking minimums in Downtown Brooklyn, though seriously insufficient, is good news for housing affordability and environmental sustainability in New York City. But it’s terrible news for those hoping to see broader reforms of New York City’s parking requirements. If the Department of City Planning felt so politically constrained that it could […]

4 More City Council Members Weigh in on Parking Reform

Last week, City Hall’s proposal to reduce parking minimums for subsidized housing near transit got a hearing in the City Council, and for the most part it wasn’t pretty. Council members may say they want more affordable housing, but for many of them, that support gets shaky if it means requiring less parking in residential development. The parking reforms are part […]

Parking Requirements Will Be Reduced in a Huge Chunk of NYC

The de Blasio administration and the City Council released more details of their agreed-upon housing plan this afternoon, including a map showing where parking requirements will be reduced. For the most part, it’s very good news: Parking requirements will be eliminated for subsidized housing and senior housing in 90 percent of the area originally proposed by City […]

DCP Official: Parking Minimums Buy Support for Upzonings

We reported yesterday that Department of City Planning Sustainability Director Howard Slatkin recently announced that his agency “believe[s] there are opportunities to lower parking requirements” in a ring of neighborhoods around the Manhattan core. This would be an important step forward in overhauling decades-old policies that lead to more traffic and less affordable housing. Importantly, […]

Mark-Viverito’s East Harlem Plan Recommends Tossing Parking Minimums

Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito has released an “East Harlem Neighborhood Plan” to guide the city’s rezoning of the community, and one of the recommendations is the elimination of parking minimums. The 138-page plan [PDF] was developed over the past 10 months as a joint project of Mark-Viverito, Community Board 11, Borough President Gale Brewer, and the […]