Cities across the nation are scaling back the minimum number of parking spaces required for both commercial and residential developments, according to an article in The New York Times.

The Times article states that the US currently has about two billion parking spaces, “nearly seven for every car.”

The article calls zoning ordinances such as Greensboro’s, which mandate off-street parking for real estate projects, “arcane.”

In 2022, 15 cities in the US repealed their parking requirements according to the article.

The article states, “The rules were exacting: one parking space per apartment, for example, or one for every 300 square feet of a commercial building. It all sounded scientific, but these ratios were not based on any verifiable data about how many spaces were needed, said Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has been railing since the 1970s against the requirements, which he calls a pseudoscience.”

The parking requirements for Greensboro as set forth in the land development ordinance for commercial buildings are right in line with what Shoup calls this pseudoscience, with “retail sales and service” requiring one parking space per 300 square feet.

But it appears that Greensboro requires far more parking for residential units than the example in the article.  For “Multi-family Dwellings,” which includes apartments, Greensboro requires 1.25 parking spaces for a one bedroom, 1.5 for two bedrooms and two parking spaces for three or more bedrooms.

Townhouses require 2.1 parking spaces per dwelling unit.

“Community Gardens” aren’t required to have any parking spaces, but “Urban Farms” are required to have “5 spaces plus 1 per 300 square feet of retail floor area.”

The “Minimum Parking Ratios” chart takes up two pages in the Land Development Ordinance.  It’s extremely specific.

One of the drivers of eliminating required parking according to the Times article is “a housing shortage, which has prompted officials to explore ways to ease construction requirements and make homes more affordable.”

The Greensboro City Council discusses the housing shortage, and in particular the shortage of affordable housing, at nearly every meeting, but so far has made no move to reduce or eliminate the parking space mandates.