San Jose mulls removing parking requirements for new developments

City planning staff say parking mandate hinders development, emissions reduction efforts

San Jose, Parking
San Jose (iStock)

The city of San Jose is considering nixing parking requirements for all new developments.

The San Jose Planning Commission voted to receive a staff report that provides several alternatives for reducing parking spaces at new developments, according to the San Jose Spotlight.

The city currently requires every two-bedroom unit in multifamily buildings to have 1.7 parking spaces. Grocery, food and beverage stores must have one parking space for every 200 square feet of retail space.

In its report, staff from the planning commission said the parking mandate hinders development, as it’s expensive to build — each space can cost up to $75,000 — and removes incentives to walk or use public transit.

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Under the recommendations from city staff, San Jose could eliminate parking minimums everywhere except for in neighborhoods zoned for single-family developments, or remove parking mandates in areas where the city is trying to promote development.

The report comes as the city of San Jose tries to build up its public transit infrastructure with new two-way streets, bicycle lanes and a faster light rail system, especially in the city’s downtown area.

Some planning commissioners, including Commissioner Charles Cantrell, initially praised the idea of removing parking mandates, saying it would increase incentives to walk. Others were skeptical, saying families, children and working class individuals need accessible parking lots.

Alex Shoor, who leads housing advocate Catalyze SV, said the city needed to do more to make it easier for developers to build, adding the parking requirement has not been changed since 1965.
“We continually see projects that are constrained and hamstrung by these arbitrary outdated mandates on how much car parking must be in place,” he told the outlet.

[San Jose Spotlight] — Isabella Farr