New apartment buildings near transit arteries in Minneapolis would not have to provide off-street parking for tenants under a proposal that won approval from a city council committee Thursday.
The city currently requires new buildings to have at least one parking space for every apartment. A study found parking garages add tens of thousands of dollars per space to the cost of construction — costs that get passed to renters.
Relaxing the requirement will make housing more affordable and encourage residents to use other forms of transportation, Council Member Lisa Bender said.
"This is not about developers. This is about putting people over cars," Bender said. "It supports our policies about climate change. It supports our policies about directing growth near transit, and it supports our policies of opening up more housing and transportation options to people."
The proposed ordinance applies only to buildings located near light rail stations or bus routes with high-frequency service. Apartment buildings with more than 50 units would still face parking requirements, although they would be reduced. St. Paul passed a similar ordinance for buildings along the Green Line light rail route.
The change wouldn't prevent developers from adding parking on their own. The proposal has no effect on houses and duplexes, and it exempts the area around the University of Minnesota, which was already subject to different parking requirements.
Still, City Council President Barbara Johnson wants an exemption for her north Minneapolis ward, too. She argued that Bender's ordinance would lead to more vehicles littering the streets there.
"For everybody who thinks that poor people don't have cars, please go look in neighborhoods where poor people live," Johnson said. "As neighborhoods are more affluent in residential areas of the city, there's less parking on the street. There's more parking on the street where people don't have access to lots of dollars."
The full City Council will vote next month on the change; it typically approves measures that pass its zoning and planning committee.