Parking Requirements Will Be Reduced in a Huge Chunk of NYC

In the orange areas, parking requirements will no longer apply to subsidized housing and senior housing. Map via City Council. Click to enlarge.

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 Hall.

The so-called “transit zone,” the area in line for lower parking requirements, shrank in a handful of neighborhoods concentrated in southern Brooklyn, central Queens, and the east Bronx. For the most part, though, the map approved by two City Council committees today keeps City Hall’s parking reforms intact.

In a huge area of the city (the part well-served by the subway, roughly speaking), building subsidized housing and senior housing will no longer be weighed down by mandates that required the construction of car storage — much of which went unused. The new rules also enable construction on existing parking lots on subsidized housing sites, as long as the new housing is also below market-rate. Basically, building shelter for people is going to get easier because New York stopped insisting on requiring so much shelter for cars.

There are still many parking reforms left to enact. The de Blasio plan doesn’t reduce parking requirements for market-rate housing or lift parking mandates for subsidized housing all over the city. But this is by far the most significant parking reform the city has enacted since Streetsblog began covering the issue nearly 10 years ago. You’d probably have to go back to the early 1980s and the Manhattan off-street parking caps to find something comparable.

Looking forward, the fact that this proposal passed the council bodes well for any future attempt to further reduce parking mandates in NYC. Despite all the community board crankiness and resistant City Council members, New York does have the political will to reform parking mandates if it means more people can afford to live in the city. In addition to the mayor, plenty of council members get it. That’s something to build on.

  • Joe R.

    Probably close to negligible compared to solar heating. 300,000 ICEs @ 100kW each would be 30 GW. The power from the sun falling on 400 square miles of NYC at high noon on a summer day is on the order of 1 terawatt. Incidentally, electrical usage peaks at around 30 GW on a hot summer day. That also has a more or less negligible effect on heating.

    Of course, all the land area we devote to roads increases the amount of solar energy absorbed. With fewer vehicles, we would need far less space for roads, hence less heating. Concrete is lighter than asphalt, hence a better paving material if solar heating is a concern. That’s in addition to its other advantages.

  • Joe R.

    How much of the other things are related to vehicles, such as vehicle manufacture, mining raw materials for vehicle manufacture, oil refining, and so forth? I’d probably guess at least 25%. In the US for example the biggest users of electrical power are petroleum refineries.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    300,000 ICEs is just Manhattan

    30 gigs in Manhattan must have some effect even 2 C

  • Joe R.

    I’m sure it’s measurable but it’s not enough to turn an average summer day into a scorcher.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    if 400 miles is 1,000 GW than 22 miles is 50.

    Adding 30 GW of heat energy to 50 of solar should be significant iddn’t ?

  • Joe R.

    It depends. There’s a big difference between solar radiation, which mostly affects things by being absorbed, versus heat from ICEs which goes directly into the air. Prevailing winds will dissipate much of that ICE heat elsewhere rather quickly, before it has a chance to heat up objects in close proximity.

    Also, the 100kW per vehicle figure may actually be too high. Urban driving is a series of short bursts of power followed by longer periods of coasting or much lower power. Average power output at the wheels might only be 25 or 30 HP. Of course, ICEs aren’t terribly efficient generating this power. We can guestimate the heat output from ICEs by looking at urban fuel economy. I think 15 mpg is probably a good average. If we assume an average speed of 15 mph, then each vehicle is burning about 1 gallon of gasoline per hour. The energy in a gallon of gasoline is about 34 kW-hr. If you output 34 kW-hr of energy over a period of an hour, your average power output is 34 kW. In other words, 100 kW is probably about a factor of 3 too high. Therefore, you’re talking about adding 10 GW to ~50 GW of solar heating. Will there be a measurable increase? Yes, for sure. My guess is a few degrees. I’ve noted when traveling to Manhattan that it typically seems to be about 5°F warmer than where I live.

  • ahwr

    Is 300k the average number of cars operating on the roads in Manhattan over the course of the day? Heat builds up over time, that 50GW of solar power would be roughly 600GWh of solar energy per day. If 10 GW is the output of cars, you need a time component to compare it to solar heating. There’s more to the urban heat island effect than autos, if Manhattan is warmer than your neighborhood Queens cars aren’t the only reason.

  • Joe R.

    Those are all good questions. I tend to agree vehicle heat output has a second order effect compared to heat absorbed by pavement or structures. Structures have a surprising warming effect. I’ve noted when riding at night the air feels noticeably cooler when passing undeveloped areas like parks.

  • ahwr

    Led by Dr. Guan Dabo of School of Earth and Environment, the University of Leeds, the study traces PM2.5 (fine particles with a diameter under 2.5µm) in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region to a complex mixture of primary and secondary sources, while establishing coal combustion as the biggest origin of pollutants.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    you ever been in midtown ? think there are always cars there from 0500-1900 ? 🙂 🙂

  • Alexander Vucelic

    cars add ‘a few degrees’ during a summer heat wave ?

    dude you just calculated it adds 20% of solar heat gain. That’s a powerful amount of energy

    now imagine cooling that added thermal energy via A/C compressors

    now add that additional power load to the grid at the margin

    and BINGO !

  • ahwr

    There are always cars. Half of them look to be cabs. There are probably closer to 30k average number of cars than 300k.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    300,000 cars & truckd in CBD during daytime easy

  • neroden

    So the parking mandates will still apply to MARKET-RATE housing? This is not capitalist at all, is it?

  • neroden

    Day-am, the corrlecation with transit access is very very good for the Bronx and Brooklyn. Not so much in Queens but I think the census tracts are the wrong shape to make it obvious.

  • nope… this is car centric.. to Deblasio credit it would have been a big battle and divert from the goal of affordable housing.
    Teh only reason they did it here ( with the vague excuse of transit rich is to give a break to developers .

  • neroden

    “It also boggles my mind how something which makes you a lot poorer is considered a symbol of prosperity.”

    Read Thorstein Veblen’s _Theory of the Leisure Class_… or if you’re in a hurry, look at the Wikipedia entry for “conspicuous consumption”. They’re showing off that they have so much money that they can waste it. It’s classic noveau riche behavior.

    In the US, automobiles are not usually considered prestige items any more, so people are more likely to show off that they have the latest iPhone or whatever.

  • neroden

    The Mayor and City Council need to remove free street parking. Period. Every street parking space needs to be on the MuniMeters. Every. Single. One. Except Zipcar and similar spaces.

    Once this is done, the dynamic changes.

  • neroden

    Thank goodness we changed that dynamic here in tiny Ithaca, NY. Enough people now recognize that building more walkable housing is good for everyone that we have a *coalition* to raise height limits.

  • MiklosMeszaros

    Bay Ridge is one of the more challenging neighborhoods to find on street parking. This and a significant percentage of the area is greater than ten minutes walking to a subway. It even has less service than Park Slope and is more difficult to find parking with greater walking distances.

  • BBnet3000

    This plan already accounts for walking distance to the subway, but not even 4th Ave in Bay Ridge is included in the plan.

  • MiklosMeszaros

    Yes, its quite well known. The area of Bay Ridge has sections which are more than 1km from the nearest subway station and that was certainly part of factor.

    This being compounded by fact that it is one of the worst neighborhoods in Brooklyn to park and some of the lowest available parking for rental units.

    While local politics certainly play a role, Bay Ridge actually does have a series of conditions which make it understandable for its exclusion. Considering the lower cost per square foot of space as compared to much of the city, the concession doesn’t add to all that much motivation to produce buildings that are below current parking requirements.

    There are some other areas of the maps that make far less sense to exclude over Bay Ridge. Just look through the newly excluded areas and their relative availability of parking and transit. They have stronger transit options through much greater percentage of the area as compared to Bay Ridge in addition to already having much better parking conditions. Now this is local politics at work.

  • native new yorker

    On street parking easier west of Ridge Blvd as most homes are 1 or 2 family with driveways. In the rest of Bay Ridge it’s tougher to find a parking space.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    why not add citibike to bayridge and solve the last mile challenge to transit

  • MiklosMeszaros

    That might be a long term addition, although one that will meet contention since the stations would take up some already scarce parking. The Citibike system has a long way to go before it reaches ends of Brooklyn. The cycling infrastructure seems quite woeful from my experience and should be addressed well before any bike share program expansion. While the smaller streets aren’t so bad, the major avenues would be very challenging for any cyclist.

    The station layout would be strategically different as well and something that would require study. This area has a few major key drags and lots of small destinations. Bike redistribution would be key to make this not become a logistical mess.

    The other aspect is that they have some of the most significant portion of the Brooklyn bike green way. While its quite good, it needs an update in few key areas. The Pathway has a separated pathway north of the Verrazano, which is immensely helpful. The south combines the path and at certain times, its hellacious trying to avoid some darting pedestrians which move across the path randomly and without warning. These include poorly attended children. The other is a better connection from the Brooklyn Bridge-Brooklyn Bridge-Park-Colombia Waterfront-Red Hook-and then Bubkis. There is a tremendous potential to add a bike bath under the Gowanus Expressway, between the directions that is separated from the traffic. You would only require left lane turn control signals to keep proper traffic lines and it connect Red Hook to Bay Ridge.

    Big dreams, doubtful action. The Zero Vision way!

  • Alexander Vucelic

    going to argue in favour of encouraging cycling the last mile in our transit wastelands. it’s trivial to cycle 1-2 miles to transit station. Bike storage is easy- hundreds of Vime can be Stored at a station in a half dozen Parking soaces.

    the rest of the civilianzed World dös this; so why not Bay Ridge ?

  • MiklosMeszaros

    Are you accusing Bay Ridge of being civilized? The land of Saturday Night Fever! Additionally, the Robert Moses is strong in this hood.

    Just try to ride a bike down the main drags and you’ll understand why it needs work before you put them in. You can argue all you want, doesn’t change the fact that your miles off correct course of actions. Infrastructure changes first and stations to follow after a proper study. There are areas if Brooklyn that still need the system and are better prepared right now. Funds are limited and its still a money pit of system. Placing bikes out there now will deepen the pit and place people on contention with overall poor road conditions for cycling. I would start planning infrastructure improvements by submitting proposals for approval and start from there.

    You need a plane that can carry the bomb before you drop it. Right now, that plane needs some re engineering.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    What other ‘civilized’ area in Brooklyn would be better to solve the Last mile challenge via Cycling ? If Bay Ridge is Doomed to Stagnationen, then There must be a BK transit desert ready for the e-z Last Mile solution

  • MiklosMeszaros

    Well, drama queen, it isn’t doomed and just needs a proper work plan. Also, I’m being a little sarcastic about the stereotypes of Bay Ridge past, which does have a basis of truth to it.

    Flatbush, East Flatbush, Flatlands, and Midwood are much closer to being suited for bike installations. None are given any attention at the moment and have miles of bike infrastructure already in place. The two keys that Bedford Ave and Ocean Parkway have an excellent basis to build upon. These pathways are already heavily utilized and would gain ridership rates at likely high rates. You could design more pathways on McDonald Ave and Ocean Ave to enhance it even further. There are a number of cross paths that would also suite additional bike traffic lanes.

    In Bay Ridge, I would start with redesigns on 3rd, 4th, and 5th avenues on the initial wave and then some additional cross points like 86th, 65th, and 60th streets. This would be with the mind that stations for pending future. I have to look back into what 70’s street would also work for proper path. I think it could be quite good given time and effort.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    just do it

  • I can’t believe NYC has any off-street parking requirements. Get rid of them all. Somebody get deBlasio a copy of “The High Cost of Free Parking.”

  • Jason Haremza

    If a city like Rochester, that is much less dense, less walkable, more car-oriented, and with far less robust transit than NYC can eliminate ALL parking requirements for ALL uses for over 5% of the city’s area, surely NYC can take a bolder stand against parking requirements.

  • Out of the yellow travel zone regions, most can be tight-ish on stopping, except for red snare, and focuses south and east of prospect park.


This Map Shows Where de Blasio Wants to Reduce Parking Mandates

In February, the Department of City Planning outlined the broad strokes of how the de Blasio administration will seek to change the rules that shape new development in New York. After eight months of public meetings and behind-the-scenes work, City Hall’s proposals were released this week. The documents reveal details of how the city wants to handle parking minimums in […]

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 hearing yesterday […]

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 […]

Take a Stand Against Affordable Housing By Saving This Parking Garage

In NYC’s current affordable housing shortage, every square foot counts. With that in mind, the city announced plans earlier this year to relinquish three parking garages it owns on West 108th Street to make way for 280 units of new housing, all of which would be reserved for people earning less than the average income in the area. Naturally, hysteria ensued. Since […]

De Blasio Housing Plan Meekly Suggests Parking Reform

There’s a deep connection between parking policy and housing affordability. The more space New York devotes to car storage, the less space is available to house people. And yet, 50 year old laws mandating the construction of parking in new residential development persist in most of the city, driving up construction costs and hampering the […]