Could COVID-19 Pandemic Spur Changes in Parking Minimums?

Originally published in the NAIOP Source E-Newsletter on February 18, 2021.

Dusty parking codes and parking minimums have contributed to the creation of between three and eight parking spaces per car in the U.S., cost real estate developers untold billions of dollars, and caused gridlock in urban centers. But now, these decades-old rules may be in for a dramatic overhaul as parking demand drops as much as 90% in many areas of the country, and municipalities and businesses consider these empty spaces for other uses.

Traditionally, municipalities have not allowed the cost burdens of “free parking” placed on developers to sway parking policy, according to Christine Banning, IOM, CAE, president of the National Parking Association, writing in the Spring 2019 issue of Development magazine. What could now change these parking minimums is the need for cities and towns to convert parking spaces into other uses, such as outdoor dining spaces, in an effort to save these small businesses. Residents, eager for lunch or dinner out with family and friends, are backing these changes.

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