Removing Parking Minimums: Lessons Learned and How to Pitch the Idea to Elected Officials

Want to better your community but don’t know where to start? Enter It’s the Little Things: a weekly Strong Towns podcast that gives you the wisdom and encouragement you need to take the small yet powerful actions that can make your city or town stronger.

It’s the Little Things features Strong Towns Community Builder Jacob Moses in conversation with various guests who have taken action in their own places and in their own ways.

Strong Towns readers and members often ask us how their own city or town can become more financially resilient. Several ideas come to mind, of course. They could write zoning codes that encourage better use of land; turn wealth-sucking stroads into community building streets; or embrace incremental development.

One of the best and most immediately available steps that cities and towns can take, however, is to eliminate parking minimums—or, at least, make progress toward having no minimums. A parking minimum is a provision in your city’s or town’s code that requires developers to build a certain amount of parking spots, depending on the development’s size and use.

It may seem logical, at first. People who choose to drive to their destination will need a place to park. However, to force developers to build a fixed number of parking spots—even if their patrons or tenants may not need them—has endless negative consequences, such as unused parking lots and more expensive development.

Thankfully, cities and towns across the country have made progress towards removing parking minimums. And, as you can read in this Strong Towns article from Sandpoint, Idaho’s Director of Planning and Community Development, the positive outcomes speak for themselves.

So, therein lies the question: how can you—whether you’re a councilperson or a concerned citizen—propose the removal of parking minimums to your own city council?

To help answer this question, in this episode we have John Reuter—board member at Strong Towns—on the podcast, who, during his time as councilperson in Sandpoint, Idaho, successfully proposed and later removed parking minimums in Sandpoint’s historic downtown.

In this episode, you’ll learn the best strategies for proposing no parking minimums to your council, including how to tell a compelling story, how to find data that enhances that story, and how to build community support to remove parking minimums.