Tailoring Parking Requirements

Minimum parking requirements are the traditional method used by municipalities to control the amount of parking. This requirement is calculated by the ratio of the number of parking spaces required per square foot, per dwelling unit, or another measure of intensity.

Maximum parking requirements can also be established. Maximums create a restriction on an applicant’s ability to expand parking facilities.

Area-wide caps set limits to the total number of parking spaces allowed within a defined district.

Zoning ordinances can be revised or a zoning overlay can be created to allow for increased flexibility and reduced requirements, which can be determined based on local considerations. Local considerations include:

Location: How densely developed is the surrounding area? If the area is of high density and has transportation alternatives to the automobile there may be less people traveling by car. It is also important to know if there is on-street parking or a nearby parking facility to absorb additional demand.

Demographics: If the anticipated users of the site display lower levels of car ownership (often based on age or income level) then the project may require less parking.

Fees-in-lieu: Fees-in-lieu programs serve as an alternative to requiring on-site parking. A municipality can reduce the minimum parking requirement for a developer if they are willing to pay into a parking fund. Fees-in-lieu funds are often used to finance off-site parking facilities such as large lots or structured parking.

Employer Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Programs are typically employer-led programs that reduce the parking needs of employees by encouraging alternatives. If the developer commits to establishing a TDM program through a covenant during the permitting process, then the minimum requirement can be reduced.

Boston Metropolitan Area Planning Council Sustainable Transportation Toolkit, 2007
Todd Litman, Parking Management: Strategies, Evaluation, and Planning Victoria Transport Policy Institute, April 2006; p. 12.
Massachusetts Smart Growth / Smart Energy Toolkit: Smart Parking Module