Point System: Parking Requirements Bill Introduced

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Streetsblog reports that Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), chair of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, introduced legislation to reform parking laws.

    Streetsblog is reporting that Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), chair of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, introduced legislation last week that looks to reform parking laws. From the bill's fact sheet: "This bill seeks to reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions by revealing the actual cost of parking and reducing governmental or government-required subsidies for parking." List of proposals:

    ---Eliminating minimum parking requirements and/or establishing maximum parking requirements in local zoning ordinances.
    ---Allowing greater development potential on existing parking lots.
    ---Requiring that parking costs be unbundled from rent costs in residential or commercial leases.
    ---Requiring that all new employment contracts charge the full cost of employer-provided parking.
    ---Requiring employers to offer transit passes to employees on a pre-tax basis.
    ---Setting parking meter rates at market rate.
    ---Installing meters in areas with parking shortages.
    ---Establishing parking benefit districts to direct new revenue from meters or meter rate increases to the community from which they come.
    ---Allowing commuters to use surplus spaces in residential permit areas for a price.
    ---Dedicating parking revenues to programs that reduce parking demand, including public transit, transportation demand management, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

    As Streetsblog points out, the legislation would require that every municipality in the state earn at least "20 points" in parking reforms."The blog details more of the bill, while the Senator tells us (via email): "Studies have shown that if we charge market rates for parking, we will significantly reduce traffic congestion, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. We will also free up land for infill development, reduce the cost of infill development, and make transit more economically competitive. My goal with SB 518 is to open a debate to address these important issues.” It's our understanding that there's a similar bill that was also recently submitted that has some of the language. UPDATE: The other pieces of related legislation include SB 728 (Lowenthal) which addresses the state's parking cash-out law and AB 1186 (Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield), which looks at the unbundling of parking costs in commercial leases.

    SB 518 (Lowenthal)

    Reducing Congestion and Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Parking Policy Reform
    Introduced February 26, 2009


    Summary

    This bill seeks to reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions by revealing the actual cost of parking and reducing governmental or government-required subsidies for parking.

    Background

    “Free” parking has significant social, economic, and environmental costs.

    First, free parking encourages vehicle trips, thereby increasing traffic congestion, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. For example, at employment sites, employer-paid parking increases rates of driving by as much as 22%.

    Second, excessive governmental parking requirements to ensure free parking greatly expand the built footprint and increase travel distances, thereby increasing per capita vehicle miles traveled and reducing the viability of other transportation modes, such as walking, bicycling, and transit.

    Third, the high cost of land, construction, and maintenance to provide free parking is passed on to everyone through higher prices. Free parking at stores is paid for by all customers through higher prices for goods. Free employer parking is paid for by lower wages for all workers. Free on-street parking is paid for by the entire community in the form of higher taxes. In each case, these prices are also paid by those who do not drive.

    Eliminating subsidies and revealing the actual cost of parking to drivers has enormous potential to reduce traffic congestion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing vehicle trips. A recent RAND report stated that pricing strategies, such as parking pricing, are the only way to achieve lasting reductions in traffic congestion. And in the short term, changes to parking policy can reduce greenhouse gas emissions more than all other strategies combined. Eliminating parking subsidies can also improve social equity by lowering prices for those who choose not to drive, often lower-income households.

    Proposal


    SB 518 does the following:
    Prohibits the state from subsidizing parking with certain exceptions.
    Prohibits community colleges from subsidizing parking at their campuses, except for students on financial assistance and for carpools. State regulations already prohibit the University of California and the California State University from subsidizing parking at their campuses.
    Establishes a menu of parking policy reforms with a point score for each reform and requires local governments, by January 1, 2012, to adopt 20 points worth of reforms. Local governments that adopt 50 points worth or reforms receive a 5% scoring bonus for any competitive loan or grant program funded by a general obligation bond. The reforms on the menu relate to:

    Eliminating minimum parking requirements and/or establishing maximum parking requirements in local zoning ordinances.
    Allowing greater development potential on existing parking lots.
    Requiring that parking costs be unbundled from rent costs in residential or commercial leases.
    Requiring that all new employment contracts charge the full cost of employer-provided parking.
    Requiring employers to offer transit passes to employees on a pre-tax basis.
    Setting parking meter rates at market rate.
    Installing meters in areas with parking shortages.
    Establishing parking benefit districts to direct new revenue from meters or meter rate increases to the community from which they come.
    Allowing commuters to use surplus spaces in residential permit areas for a price.
    Dedicating parking revenues to programs that reduce parking demand, including public transit, transportation demand management, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.


     

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