Raleigh, like Greensboro, is facing a serious housing shortage.
The Raleigh City Council, unlike the Greensboro City Council, has taken several actions to increase housing opportunities at no cost to the taxpayers.
One of those actions Raleigh has taken is to eliminate minimum parking requirements for new development. In Greensboro, there are minimum parking requirements for just about everything imaginable. Each detached dwelling unit (house) no matter how small is required to have two parking spaces.
At one time Greensboro’s minimum parking requirements were, according to a survey done by the city, the highest in the country.
Along with making development less expensive, eliminating minimum parking requirements also fits in with the Greensboro City Council’s goal to be a greener and more sustainable city. Forcing property owners to cut down trees and pave land for parking spaces they don’t need is about as environmentally unfriendly as you can get.
The number of unused parking spaces in Greensboro should be appalling to those interested in sustainable development. A test recommended to determine whether the minimum parking requirements are too high is to drive around on Black Friday and count empty parking spaces at retail establishments. Another is to drive around on any regular workday and count the number of empty parking spaces at office buildings.
We, unfortunately, don’t have those counts at our fingertips, but driving through the Green Valley office park on a normal workday, I regularly see acres of empty parking. If the parking spaces aren’t used on a regular workday, when are they used? They certainly aren’t used on weekends or holidays.
For some reason the Greensboro City Council, despite its commitment to a more sustainable city, loves to require more parking than is needed or even sensible. The first tiny house development in Greensboro was held up because the zoning ordinance required two parking spaces for each 250-square-foot house designed to provide housing for homeless people.
In March 2022, the News & Observer quoted Raleigh City Councilmember Jonathan Melton explaining why he supported eliminating minimum parking requirements: “For a really long time, we have prioritized spaces for cars over people. And that needs to stop. We’re in a housing crisis. Parking minimums drive up the cost of housing and make it more difficult for small business owners to operate and start small businesses, and [they’re] bad for the environment.”
Who knows more about how much parking a Wal-Mart needs, Wal-Mart, which has built over 4,000 Wal-Mart stores in the US, or the nine members of the City Council who collectively have no experience in building and managing big box stores?
Not just Raleigh but cities all over the country are eliminating required parking minimums. Nashville, one of the fastest growing cities in the country, has eliminated minimum parking requirements and replaced them with a maximum number of spaces allowed for a new development.
One of the stated goals of the GSO2040 Plan is “Becoming Car Optional.”
If the goal is to become a “car optional” city, wouldn’t it make sense to eliminate the minimum parking requirements across the board?