CodeNEXT: Eliminate Government-Mandated Parking Requirements?


FANs interested in CodeNEXT met Saturday, August 12 to discuss recommendations that FAN could make to City Council, Planning Commission, Zoning and Platting Commission (ZAP), staff, and consultants. In the near future, FAN members will have an opportunity to vote on whether to support each possible recommendation. In keeping with FAN’s openness, transparency, and use of technology to include more people in the conversation, we are inviting discussion here on the forum about each recommendation before it is put to a vote.

1. What do you think of this recommendation?
2. What would you change, if anything?
3. What do you think of the rationale?
4. Do you have specific examples from staff’s existing CodeNEXT proposals that you believe must change to satisfy this recommendation?


Eliminate government-mandated off-street parking requirements from all zones.


  • Parking can reduce the amount and diversity of housing that people may build within the constraints of their land, thereby making our neighborhoods less inclusive.
  • Surface parking lots make commercial destinations less accessible to neighbors who walk, bike, and take transit.
  • People are more important than cars. Consequently, no one should be required to provide free housing for automobiles. If we don’t require people to house the homeless, why should we require them to house cars?
  • The Obama White House Housing Development Toolkit recommends that localities eliminate - not just reduce - minimum off-street parking requirements. It is not a radical idea.

Would adding something like the following be a good idea?

  • Requiring parking adds impervious cover with little to no public benefit while increasing runoff and risk of flooding.

What does “government-mandated” add here? I would strike those words.

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Parking requirements also cause traffic and increasing VMT.


People may be more important than cars. However every car IS A PERSON trying to get around, work, shop or visit someone in the hospital. Not everyone has the luxury of time to take what mass transit is available in Austin, is healthy enough to bike, or has access to transit options. The market demand can and should dictate parking requirements. There should be no maximums or minimums. Just a general guidelines to be used for parking demand and maneuverability assumptions. Size should also be a guideline. Taxpayer dollars should not be spent on personnel reviewing, dictating or holding up construction over details about non -ADA parking numbers, sizes, dimensions, signs or access. Too many projects require small changes made to plans or in the field for no real purpose except to hold up and delay construction and cost an owner money better used elsewhere. Over regulation for parking on private property is rampant and should be dialed back. Whether parking is free or paid should be a decision the property owner makes, not the city. However, inadequate parking access has impacted adjacent property owners both commercial and residential. While people still drive and parking is still in demand, opposition against reducing parking will come from residential neighborhoods adjacent to commercial corridors and must be addressed if density is a goal.


“Government-mandated” does seem to be redundant, since the land development code is by its very nature government regulation.

One reason to include it is to avoid confusion among libertarian-minded people who may think we are advocating heavy-handed government policy to keep people from building parking. Including “government-mandated” reminds libertarian-minded neighbors that we are in fact advocating the removal of a government mandate to accommodate automobiles, not the addition of any mandate regarding parking. (@betty highlighted the distinction in her reply.)

However, maybe there is a better way of making this point clear. Thoughts on what that might be?


“Eliminate off-street parking requirements from all zones. Allow owners to choose the appropriate amount of parking for their circumstances.”


Parking restrictions could be reduced, but I am not sure you can or should eliminate Handicap parking or loading.


Betty: ADA requires a certain percentage of parking be accessible. As you correctly point out, if you eliminate parking requirements, you would eliminate accessible spaces. What City Council did downtown was calculate how many accessible spaces would be required under the old rules, eliminate parking requirements, and then add back accessible parking requirements equal to what would have been required under the old regime.

I think it worked out well.


Perhaps the last bullet which references the Obama Housing
Decelopment toolkit could be reworded slightly and become the recommendation? Would think that would take care of concerns like disabled parking. It’s a pretty powerful point .


I don’t think it works out well at all. It still requires the owner of a small tract downtown to somehow provide a parking space or two if they want to change use. This is just as damaging to the pedestrian environment and urbanism as it would be if one general-purpose space was required (the move from 0 to 1 required space is huge; the move from 20 to 21 is minor, something like that).

There should be no parking requirements downtown at all. Disabled people should be arriving via transit like anybody else (or via UberAccess; or unloaded at the curb if all else fails). I say this as somebody who has spent months unable to walk without a cane, and used a handicapped parking permit during that time.

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Perhaps the last bullet which references the Obama Housing
Decelopment toolkit could be reworded slightly and become
the recommendation? Would think that would take care of
concerns like disabled parking. It’s a pretty powerful point .

I’m not sure what the difference would be. The recommendation from the Obama Housing Development Toolkit (“Eliminate off-street parking requirements”) is pretty much the same as the proposed recommendation in this thread. It does not mention disabled parking.

However, I suppose it would address one of @dkesh’s concerns were FAN’s recommendation to use the Toolkit’s wording, since it doesn’t include “government-mandated”.


My suggestion to lead with the Obama bullet was to make it more of a generally understood best practice than urbanist radical thinking. Maybe every one of these proposals is consistent with that toolkit and if so parking does not deserve special air cover? If so the third bullet should possibly be removed as redundant.

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Let’s move the bullet up to be the first bullet.

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We plan on putting these recommendations to a vote starting sometime tomorrow. If you have any further specific recommendations for wording changes or examples that can be used in the “rationale” section such as links to specific research or articles, please let post here sometime today! I’ve included what I believe to be the latest wording for this recommendation below based on what everyone has said here, but if I missed something, please let us know.


Eliminate off-street parking requirements from all zones. Allow owners to choose the appropriate amount of parking for their circumstances.



If we’re advocating for the elimination of government-mandated parking requirements, can we at the same time advocate for eliminating special resident-only parking permits for neighborhoods? The neighborhood residents do not actually own the streets in front of their houses to use as their own private parking spaces - it would better serve nearby businesses if their customers could park on neighborhood streets if the businesses’ lots are full. I don’t think businesses should suffer because potential customers are not allowed to park on nearby streets. Thanks!

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The voting period has already begun on the current resolutions. But you could certainly start another discussion topic on residential parking permits, and if a board member sponsors it, it would be a part of the next vote of the membership.


Thanks, Roger. I feel that the two issues are related, because eliminating mandatory parking requirements is assuming that businesses will either have customers traveling by public transportation, living or working close enough to the business to walk or bike there, or finding other parking options in the surrounding neighborhood.

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I can definitely see how the two issues are similar. I think what everyone had in mind here originally was parking minimums for zoning and residential parking permits seem like a separate issue. One is requiring private parking and the other is taking away public parking. I guess it’s also possible for someone to be for getting rid of parking minimums and to support residential parking permits, so probably want to keep them as separate votes.

I do think we should weigh in on residential parking permits and think that they are bad policy. @Paul_Kevin_Smith would you be able to start a second thread and include the resolution language and possibly some “rationale” to support the resolution language to be voted on? We can always add that onto our CodeNEXT recommendations after that’s voted on if it passes.

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@Pete_Gilcrease, Residential Permit Parking is outside of the scope of CodeNEXT per related statements made by COA leaders. After months of scrutiny of CodeNEXT to attach eliminating RPP like a rider to a bill would be a disservice to the complexity of the issue.

U.S. Cities more progressive than Austin last I knew had their own version of RPP,. Having been pretty close to our program since close to inception I have seen unfortunate changes made, due to the heavy hand of ANC, that favor the gated suburban vibe the ANC PAC supports.

@Paul_Kevin_Smith, I think at this point the ask should be for a CAG, which includes businesses and apartments (both used to be able to participate if on their block). I thought one would have been formed by now as it is supposed to be looked at in parallel with CodeNEXT. The City is not going to ditch the program in 2018, we need it to work better for all of Austin, and your initiating the discussion here can be a positive in moving that direction.