Off-street parking requirements for new developments are expected to be eliminated under a proposal due for final action on August 18 by the Saint Paul City Council. The measure is supported by the city’s Planning Commission and several district councils. It will allow developers to potentially add more density to their buildings especially in affordable housing developments. The measure is similar to one adopted recently in Minneapolis.

Off-street parking requirements are already eased in Saint Paul for developments along the light-rail Green Line and are not imposed at all downtown. However, in most places off-street parking must be provided based on the zoning and size and type of the development. Developers wanting to provide less parking now must go to the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals for variances.

Developers could still provide parking if they wanted to do under the regulations. Some developers have indicated that it would be more difficult to obtain financing if they did not provide some level of off-street parking.

Developers would have to create travel demand management strategies to promote alternatives to driving by providing bike parking, subsidized transit passes or other perks.

The council has received several dozen comments on the proposal, most in favor of the change and its perceived environmental benefits. Requiring less parking is expected to encourage people to walk, bike or use public transit to get around.

Opponents contend that eliminating parking minimums would further clog city streets with parked vehicles.

— Jane McClure

 

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