Colorado Steps Deeper Into The No Minimum Parking Club

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Colorado Rep. Stephanie Vigil highlighted a crucial point – the cost of "free parking" is hidden and drives up housing expenses.
United States Real Estate and Construction
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Have you ever thought about the hidden costs of "free parking"?

Colorado Rep. Stephanie Vigil highlighted a crucial point – the cost of "free parking" is hidden and drives up housing expenses. By removing minimum parking requirements, like in the recent Colorado bill HB24-1304, cities can become more walkable and transit-friendly, potentially easing housing affordability issues and reducing negative environmental impacts.

Pay attention the next time you drive through your apartment or condo parking garage. Notice all of the empty spaces. This is one of the many hidden costs that pushes up the cost of housing and worsen our affordable crisis.

Governor Jared Polis signed HB24-1304 this last Monday, which is another step to help make housing more affordable in Colorado. The bill generally prohibits local municipalities from enforcing minimum parking laws for apartments and other multi-family residential projects within transit corridors.

The bill that originally passed the house wasn't limited to transit corridors. Although applying the house's broader bill would enhance housing affordability and walkability even more, at this point, we should take any positive steps we can get.

Many of the options to ease housing affordability are easy to see, but the problem is often political. NIMBY forces push to have governments block, limit or increase the cost of new construction, which makes it more expensive for potential residents who want to move to a desirable area.

Opposition argues it may hinder workers' commute, but eliminating minimum parking requirements can lead to denser, more accessible neighborhoods where workers can afford to live and walk to work.

Cities like Portland, Minneapolis, San Jose, and Austin have already made strides by removing parking requirements. Congrats to Colorado for taking this step to foster more affordable housing, walkable communities, and sustainable urban development.

To delve deeper into parking's impact on housing and cities, check out UCLA professor Donald Shoup's book, "The High Cost of Free Parking."

"There's no such thing as free parking," Democratic Rep. Stephanie Vigil, a bill sponsor, said in an interview. "It is being paid for somehow. And the way that we have paid for that more than anything is to pave paradise and put up a parking lot."

Vigil, who represents Colorado Springs, and other supporters say removing parking requirements will make it easier for developers to build more housing units for less money, ultimately making cities more walkable and transit-friendly — and, they hope, more affordable.

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