Push To Limit Parking May Slow Development

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The New York Sun

Critics are warning that a push by environmental groups to limit residential parking in New York could depress property values and slow development.

A report released yesterday by a coalition of environmental and urban planning advocates, including Transportation Alternatives, the New York League of Conservation Voters, and the Environmental Defense Fund, suggests that Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030 initiative could be weakened by zoning laws that are seen to encourage car ownership.

“As the pace of residential development is growing and accelerating, their increase in the parking supply will unleash a torrent of unnecessary car ownership,” the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, Paul Steely White, said yesterday at a press conference, warning that an increase in cars would “largely erase” reductions in carbon from other city environmental initiatives.

The report predicts that car ownership will grow significantly during the city’s building boom: Car-owning residents of new developments will add 170,000 new vehicles to the city’s roads by 2030 and produce 431,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year.

One proposed policy to reduce the increase in vehicles is to do away with zoning regulations that require new developments to contain a minimum number of built-in parking spots, ranging from 0.4 to one car a housing unit. Instead, the city would replace the requirements with a maximum limit on the number of parking spots based on how close the building is to bus and subway stops.

While proponents of the move say it would encourage tenants to ditch their vehicles, some are arguing that a cap on parking spots would be a drag on the city’s housing market and tax base.

The CEO of the Partnership for New York City, Kathryn Wylde, said enacting a limit on parking would make it more difficult to attract tenants to developments in the boroughs other than Manhattan, where mass transit is sometimes scarce. Manhattan already has parking limits in place in most areas.

“It would definitely have an effect on marketability and property values,” Ms. Wylde said in an interview yesterday. “Apartments without a parking space are considerably less valuable than ones that offer a space.”

Ms. Wylde predicted that limiting parking would not reduce the number of vehicles in the city, as car owners in the other boroughs would park their cars in the street or outside garages.

“Limiting the number of parking spaces in residential developments does not necessarily result in fewer cars on the street or fewer vehicle miles traveled,” she said. “It just presents the potential for an inconvenience.”

In addition to limits on parking, the environmental groups behind the study are also calling for developers to separate the price of parking from the sale price of housing, for the city to establish fees on developers who add new parking spaces, and for encouraging neighborhood car-sharing services.

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