After a 10+ hour meeting on June 14, 2022, the San José City Council unanimously approved a new parking policy for development.
Up to this point, this policy hadn’t significantly changed since 1965. It was critical that improvements be made in order to reduce climate impacts by reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), planet-warming emissions, and meet the City’s bold climate goals. Therefore, we applaud Mayor Liccardo and the City Council for taking a bold step in the right direction to achieve climate-smart San José goals—unlocking better housing, transit, and quality of life for its residents.
This win was made possible by hundreds of advocates like you, who sent emails to San José’s Planning Commission and City Council, urging them to support this new policy. We also want to thank our coalition of partners who rallied around this initiative, including the Housing Action Coalition, Friends of Caltrain, SPUR, TransForm CA, Save the Bay, Catalyze SV, SV@Home, South Bay Yimby, NRDC, and Urban Environmentalists.
Why It’s Important
The policy that has been approved includes eliminating parking requirements in most areas of the city, as well as new transportation demand management (TDM) requirements for new development. This, of course, doesn’t mean eliminating parking. It means these changes have the potential to make San José:
- More affordable: The requirement for building a minimum amount of parking spaces requires land, building materials, and equipment which increases the price of housing construction. The reduced development costs could make housing more affordable to residents.
- More sustainable: By allowing the community to determine how much parking is appropriate, you can prevent the oversupply of parking and promote a better quality urban environment. This policy reform can reduce reliance on cars and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, while also incentivizing more sustainable modes and options of mobility.
- More equitable: Minimum parking requirements mean that even car-free households (which are overwhelmingly concentrated in the lower-income groups; about 9% of households do not own cars in San José) end up paying for parking they don’t use. The Transportation Demand Management (TDM) policies are a critical way to increase access to transportation and reduce the reliance on cars, allowing people to have more affordable transportation options. When the TDM package includes a VTA SmartPass, it can save a two-person household nearly $2,000 per year while supporting VTA’s financial sustainability and ridership.
San José has taken the opportunity to re-envision how the region plans for and accommodates new development, basing it on market demand and not outdated parking requirements. Other cities implementing similar policies include Berkeley, Seattle, Sacramento, and more!
Greenbelt Alliance was proud to partner with and support the City of San José during the process of updating their parking standards for new development—through community outreach, communications campaign, and advocacy. As part of this three-year policy update process (2019 – 2022), City staff and the project’s technical and engagement partners evaluated existing parking, equity, and development issues in San José; reviewed parking and TDM policies implemented in other cities, and engaged with residents and community stakeholders on this topic.
Resources to Learn More
- Find more on the City of San José’s website.
- More context is available in this blog post.
- What You Need to Know About San José’s Parking Policy Reform
- Check out this interview for NBC Bay Area
- Check out the story on Mercury News
- Video: Saving Millions with Smart Parking and Transportation Strategies – 2022
- Video: Parking Reform for Climate Smart Cities – 2020