San Jose, California is rethinking parking to help people and the climate
In an important climate vote on June 14, the San Jose City Council in California unanimously passed a measure to help reduce the city’s biggest source of emissions: cars on the road. The council asked city staff to reform outdated parking rules and require new developments to support more ways to get around than just driving.
City staff will present a new policy to council later this year. If it passes, San Jose will join the ranks of cities reinventing the way land is used to create more walkable neighborhoods and affordable homes.
Leading the charge towards carbon neutrality
As part of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge, San Jose is taking action to reform parking rules with cities including San Diego, Honolulu and Saint Paul. These policies remove outdated and often arbitrary minimum parking requirements; instead, they allow the market to decide how much parking is actually needed for new homes, shops and other developments.
Additionally, for developments that are still likely to get more cars on the road, San Jose’s TDM policy would require developers to take action to encourage more sustainable transportation. This would include measures such as providing transit passes to residents, including bike racks or car share parking in the new development, or improving the surrounding sidewalks to make the area more accessible to foot.
If the policy is passed later this year, it should help reduce car driving and make walking, cycling and public transport safer and more accessible. This is a key action in reaching San Jose’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
Building a More Affordable San Jose
For decades, American urban planning has prioritized driving over bus, bike, or walking, and today our cities reflect that, with much of our public space dedicated to roads and parkings. Today, cities like San Jose are rethinking the assumption that everyone can and should drive.
Parking is expensive: The cost of a parking structure can reach $75,000 per space. If a new condo requires two stalls for each unit, that’s $150,000 added to the purchase price, whether the new owner has two cars, one, or none. With the severe shortage of affordable housing in San Jose and many other cities, this is a simple solution to reducing housing costs that has been long needed.
Reforming these requirements not only makes homes more affordable, but also property more affordable. This is because the price of parking requirements is built into every transaction. While grocery stores are required to have parking, part of what you pay for food actually pays for that dedicated parking space — even if you’re walking to the store.
A series of climate actions
In addition to this long-awaited step toward parking reform, at the same meeting, the San Jose City Council also passed two other important climate actions:
- An “acceleration strategy” to achieve the city’s carbon neutral goal by 2030 – setting out the actions that need to happen faster to achieve this goal in just eight years.
- “Electrify San Jose,” a framework for building electrification that recommends policies and programs to wisely help residents, especially in historically underserved neighborhoods, replace fossil fuel-powered appliances with those that rely on electricity. clean electricity.
With these decisions, San Jose is acting on its goals, accelerating its climate action and tackling its two biggest sources of carbon pollution head-on – transportation and buildings.
This post originally appeared on the NRDC Expert Blog, written by Elizabeth Stampe, Sarah Elkotbeid and Rabi Abonour.