The city of Buffalo, New York, has completely eliminated parking minimums in its new zoning code, becoming the first large city in the US to do.
To explain, some cities — such as Rochester, for instance — have selectively eliminated parking minimums (e.g., in downtown areas, etc.) in recent years, but Buffalo is the first in the US to do some across the table, with the whole city now freed from the requirements of parking minimums.
Since this subject probably isn’t one that many people are very familiar with … I’ll explain further: Developers have, since the rise of the car in the 20th century, been required in most cities to include a minimum number of parking spots for their developments, varying depending on use, size, etc.
Such requirements have effectively been a means of subsidizing auto use, pushing back against pedestrian and public transit rider urban-space usability. In other words, such requirements have been contributors to the urban sprawl seen in many US cities — where cars are often a requirement if one is to get where they need to go in a timely fashion.
Streetsblog USA provides some context: “Like many cities, Buffalo is scarred by parking lots and pocked with garages built to satisfy the mandates. … The move is expected to improve the market for development in Buffalo, which hollowed out during the decades when the region sprawled and the city planned for cars, rather than people.”
Interestingly, The Buffalo News also reported that: “The public will now have more say in how streets are designed. Improvements in the right of way will be reviewed for the first time as part of the planning board review process.”
Photo by Peter Stergion @pete716 (CC BY-SA)