Assembly Bill 2097, signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday, eliminates parking mandates for residential and commercial developments located within half a mile of major transit stops. Minimum parking requirements raise housing costs, use up valuable land, and make neighborhoods less walkable, thus, removing parking mandates is a significant victory for housing and parking reform advocates.
It’s also beneficial for the environment because it will increase public transit ridership, as Gernot Wagner and Matthew Lewis point out in a new CityLab perspective: “Parking mandates create powerful incentives for people to drive, even when other modes of transportation are convenient and available.”
The legislation comes as cities in California (and across the country) face an affordable housing crisis. State Assemblymember Laura Friedman, who introduced AB 2097 and similar bills before it, and University of California, LA professor Donald Shoup, known as the “Father of Parking Reform,” have long argued that parking mandates make it difficult to build multifamily homes within city limits. More than two-thirds of California cities require multifamily residences to have at least two parking spaces per unit, and costs are frequently passed on to residents — regardless of whether they can afford a car.
Parking reforms have also been implemented in cities ranging from Buffalo, New York, to Branson, Missouri, with some cities even instituting parking maximums. However, Newson’s latest move is the first statewide effort to prioritize people (and their housing needs) over cars, and it has the potential to inspire similar efforts across the country.