Under DC’s new zoning code, there will be fewer requirements to build parking next to new buildings. Lots cities are making similar moves, with some doing away with parking minimums altogether.


A map of places that have changed their parking rules. Map from Strong Towns.



In the graphic above, which the folks at Strong Towns created, green pins represent cities that have ditched parking minimums , either entirely or at least in certain neighborhoods. The blue pens show blue pins show where parking minimums have been lowered, and the orange ones show cities that are considering lowering their minimums.

Locally Alexandria, has a blue pin, while DC is still orange. Once DC’s zoning update goes through, it will change to blue (though original proposals did call for total elimination).

DC is also changing things up when it comes to its parking meters, with a performance parking pilot going on in Navy Yard and one to come in Gallery Place.

Cities originally mandated parking minimums out of fears that without them, nobody would have anywhere to park. But we’ve since learned that parking minimums lead to greater congestion and higher housing prices in cities and neighborhoods.  Matthew Yglesias sums it up nicely in his book, The Rent Is Too Damn High:

Cities choke density with rules mandating the quantity of parking that must be constructed to go along with any new residence. The rules, in other words, increase the number of parking spaces over what a free market would create. That helps make real estate more expensive than it otherwise would be by ensuring that either homes are smaller or else parcels are larger than would be the case absent regulation.


Cities from Seattle, San Francisco, and Philadelphia to Anchorage, Bismarck, and Fayetteville are among the places doing something to address the error that is parking minimums. Strong Towns’ map is open source, so if you know of any cities that are missing, you can add them in.

Canaan Merchant was born and raised in Powhatan, Virginia and attended George Mason University where he studied English. He became interested in urban design and transportation issues when listening to a presentation by Jeff Speck while attending GMU. He lives in Burke.