Brookline to reduce parking requirements for new construction

The Town Meeting approved a zoning change to allow less required off-street residential parking in the Transit Overlay Parking District.

The Brookline Patch reported today that the Town Meeting has approved a zoning change to allow less required off-street residential parking in the Transit Overlay District.

“Personal vehicle ownership is less common in areas with easy access to public transportation, and this change to our zoning bylaws reflects that reality, while also giving the ZBA and developers the flexibility to create more housing units in place of unused parking elsewhere,” Carey said in a statement. “This measure will help us keep housing options more affordable by reducing construction costs, give us the opportunity to develop more green space, and focus the Town’s growth strategically in areas that are best equipped to support it.”

The vote happened 6 months after Cambridge voted to eliminate parking requirement all together for new developments.

Parking takes up about one-third of land area in U.S. cities; nationwide, there are an estimated eight parking spaces for every car. In 2017, Buffalo, New York, became the first U.S. city to stop requiring development projects to include at least a minimum amount of parking. Other cities followed, including Hartford, Connecticut, and Santa Monica, California. Many cities are now considering reforms, and a bill pending before the California Legislature would remove minimums for new buildings near public transportation across California.

Unlike most cities, Brookline doesn’t allow for street parking overnight. This means that lowering parking requirements is in fact encouraging less car ownerships, and therefore reduction in traffic and pollution. 

The true cost of parking is extremely high, especially for smaller units, sometimes 10%-15% of the cost of the property. 

Lower cost per unit

An outdoor parking space in Coolidge Corner is valued at approximately $100,000 (hundred thousand dollars!). The current code calls for approximately 2 parking spaces for a new 2 bedroom condo, therefore, one could expect the price for a brand new 2 bedroom condo to be reduced by $200,000.

More affordable housing units

Any new development in Brookline that consists more than 5 units is required to have an affordable housing component. Now that the parking requirement is reduced, developers may elect to build more units per development and increase the number of affordable units in Brookline. 

More green space

Instead of paving asphalt or pouring concrete, developers will invest more in landscaping and urban oasis for their future residences as an amenity for the building.

Parking as a luxury

We still expect to see parking spaces being built for larger condominiums, but hopefully as the dependency on cars will shift, we will see more bicycles and scooters and maybe one day Brookline will feel more like a Amsterdam or Copenhagen.

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