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Councilmember Raman Voices Support for Eliminating Parking Requirements for Developments Near Public Transit

Press conference promoting AB 1401 on Tuesday, with (top left to bottom) Related California’s Meea Kang, LISC San Diego’s Ricardo Flores, Los Angeles City Council Member Nithya Raman, Transform’s Darnell Grisby, Assemblymember Laura Friedman, Berkely Mayor Jesse Arreguin, and state Senator Scott Wiener.

In a press conference sponsored by California Assembly Member Laura Friedman on Tuesday, which included a variety of politicians and affordable housing developers from around the state, Los Angeles City Council Member Nithya Raman voiced her support for Friedman’s bill AB 1401, which would eliminate minimum parking requirements in new residential, commercial and other development projects in high-transit areas.

The bill, now making its way through the state legislature, would prevent individual cities from requiring that developers include parking spaces for residents, employees or customers.  Proponents say the bill would reduce the cost of new housing development, make housing units less expensive and less exclusionary for renters and buyers, help encourage more housing construction, and discourage automobile use and traffic, with all their unhealthful side effects.

Introducing the AB 1401 promotional event, Friedman said the bill is designed to address both housing and environmental issues.  Over-building infrastructure for cars, she said, not only increases the cost of housing, but also has many other kinds of costs for our lives:

  • Cities have to put more money into things like roads and bridges, instead of more human-centered public transit and active transportation modes
  • Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for children
  • Kids often can’t play outside their homes because of traffic, which leads to health issues from a more sendentary, indoor lifestyle
  • People who live near high-traffic corridors (who are more likely to be low income) are more susceptible to asthma and other respiratory illnesses

So Friedman said AB 1401 is about “recentering” our focus and “re-prioritizing human beings over cars.”

According to Friedman, the United States currently averages 1,000 square feet of developed space per car (including things like city and commercial parking lots), but only 800 square feet of housing per resident.  And there are currently more than 200 square miles of parking spaces in Los Angeles.  Also, she said, LA County has 18.6 million parking spaces, but one study of several affordable housing developments showed that 39% of parking spaces at those developments were unused.

Others on the panel chimed in with more statistics.

According to Meea Kang, Senior Vice President, Related California, LLC, an affordable housing developer, it costs between $30,000 and $70,000 to build each parking space in a housing development, and those costs are passed on to renters and buyers in the form of higher rents or sales prices.  Also, she said, the pandemic – which has seen many unused parking spaces recently turned into outdoor dining and other kinds of commercial space – has shown that there can be “more productive” uses for our urban spaces than parking.

Meanwhile, Darnell Grisby, from the transportation policy organization Transform, said research shows that almost 1/3 of residential parking spaces go unusued, even in buildings with 100% occupancy.  And those unused parking spaces add to the historic exclusion of minorities from housing, by boosting rents to pay for the cost of that parking (by as much as $200 per month, according to fellow panelist Ricardo Flores, executive director of local development support organization LISC San Diego).

Raman agreed with the other presenters, saying there is “no single magic bullet” to solving our current housing problems, and it will take “a total hands on deck approach,” to address the crisis.  And eliminating parking requirements, she said, will be a big step in encouraging construction of more affordable housing.  “We need more creativity in reducing the very, very high cost of construction in our city,” Raman said, and removing minimum parking requirements in high transit areas can can help decrease both the cost of each housing unit, and the use of automobiles.  It’s a “win-win” for the City of LA, she said.

California state Senator Scott Wiener, who co-authored AB 1401 with Friedman, called minimum parking requirements “Draconian,” but also pointed out that the bill does nothing to prevent developers from including parking in their projects – it just doesn’t set any specific requirement for how much parking there should be.  He said one-size-fits-all rules that cities set for developers won’t work, and developers are in a better position than local governments to determine how much parking each particular development really needs.

Finally, Sacramento Mayor Darryl Steinberg said he supports the bill, too, not just because of the specific parking issues, but because it stands for”something much broader” – a statement that while local control is important on some issues, the state has a role to play in times of crisis, and the state really means it now when it says “it’s time to use every tool in our toolbox” to address the housing crisis.

Here’s the full text of the bill, as currently amended:



SECTION 1.  Section 65863.3 is added to the Government Code, to read:

65863.3.  (a) A local government shall not impose a minimum automobile parking requirement, or enforce a minimum automobile parking requirement, on residential, commercial, or other development if the parcel is located within one-half mile walking distance of public transit.

(b) When a project provides parking voluntarily, nothing in this section shall preclude a local government from imposing requirements on that voluntary parking to require spaces for car share vehicles.

(c) For purposes of this section, “public transit” means either of the following:

(1) A high-quality transit corridor as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 21155 of the Public Resources Code.
(2) A major transit stop as defined in Section 21064.3 of the Public Resources Code.

(d) The Legislature finds and declares that this section addresses a matter of statewide concern rather than a municipal affair as that term is used in Section 5 of Article XI of the California Constitution. Therefore, this section applies to all cities, including charter cities.

SEC. 2. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because a local agency or school district has the authority to levy service charges, fees, or assessments sufficient to pay for the program or level of service mandated by this act, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code.


Final note:  in addition to Raman’s support for AB 1401,  CD4 Communications Director Jesse Zwick told the Buzz this morning that Raman’s planning team is currently working on a “comprehensive review of state level housing bills,” but it has not been finalized yet.


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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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  1. I want to thank the Buzz for putting together this important article. People need to understand the horrific cost of designing our cities around automobiles, rather than human beings. The only way to get mass transit to work in a place like LA is to make it a better choice than jumping in your car all by your lonesome self.

  2. This argument over parking has been going on for over 20 years and it is BS! It would be a whole lot easier to deal with this nonsense if politicians in Sacramento, Los Angeles and other cities simply proposed a law to ban all automobiles, especially around high transit area’s which takes in most of Los Angeles. That is what they want to do but they do not have the guts to say it and then deal with the fallout. Developers who build market rate apartments would never build without parking because people who pay those rents have cars, even if they don’t use them every day. Separating the cost from the apartment rent is an idea but people will still rent spaces. If Councilmember Raman believes parking is such an evil let her and her staff give up their cars and spaces at City Hall and take a bus everywhere they need to go to serve the public. Politicians need to lead by example and stop preaching!

  3. Thanks Ms Raman – So grateful that you and others advocate this fever of over-building and inadequate parking stalls, providing no-charge street parking so LONG-TIME RESIDENTS can look fwd to the challenge of finding one. When I moved to Miracle Mile 15 years ago, I found that there is no parking provided for people who rent studios. I had to get an annual permit from the city to park on the street w/o charge. Regularly, I have had to park three or four blocks away because of drunk, scofflaw attendees at El Rey Concerts, bars, and various private parties. I can imagine how nice it will be when the Staples monstrosity is built. When’s the next election????????


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