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Impact of parking requirements on housing costs and availability in Vermont

The cost of required parking spaces increases housing costs.  Estimates of the cost of a single parking space range from $5,000-$80,000/space depending on the location of the space (with space in parking structures at the higher end of the cost range).  In addition to cost, parking space requirements may reduce the number of homes created or prevent a housing development from happening altogether. 

Smaller multi-family dwellings can be nearly impossible to construct affordably when excessive parking is required.

Developers often remain sensitive to consumer preferences for parking, even in the absence of city requirements.  A large study in Seattle showed that 70% of recent housing developments included parking where none was required.

In addition to limiting housing affordability and availability, parking requirements can also create environmentally adverse impervious surfaces if required parking spaces sit unused. 

Residential parking requirements are key reform identified for Vermont 

Minimum parking requirements should rarely be more than one on-site space per housing unit, according to Vermont’s Zoning for Great Neighborhoods study.  The effects of excessive parking requirements on housing cost and availability are often underestimated and should be measured locally.  High parking requirements can block new housing options that fit seamlessly into existing neighborhoods such as small infill buildings and conversion of large houses into multiple apartments. 

Parking reform examples

This web-based parking mandates map shows the prevalence of parking reforms nationwide, including in Burlington and South Burlington.  Burlington has largely removed parking minimums. South Burlington has eliminated all parking minimums except for multi-unit housing (which ranges from 0.75 spaces/unit to 1.5 spaces/unit depending on # bedrooms).  Recommendations in the June 2022 Winooski Parking Management Plan would also reduce the negative impact of parking requirements on housing costs and availability.  Although the plan’s recommendations are synchronized to work together, the plan specifically suggests removing parking requirements for affordable housing  and reducing them for market-rate residential developments.