City staff will soon recommend that aldermen reduce the amount of parking required at new multi-family housing developments near the city’s 10 mass transit stations.

The city now requires between 1.25 and 2.0 parking spaces per unit, depending on the number of bedrooms in the unit, regardless of whether the development is near a transit station or not.

The new proposal calls for reducing the requirement near transit stations to one parking space per unit, regardless of unit size.

In justifying the reduction city staff cites a new study conducted under a grant from the Regional Transportation Authority that looked at parking requirements in similar communities around the country with strong access to mass transit and community goals of reducing the environmental impact of heavy reliance on automobiles.

The communities studied included Berkeley, Palo Alto and Pasadena, California; Boulder, Colorado; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Portland, Oregon.

The report concludes that Evanston requires more parking spaces than any of the other communities studied.

The report also looked at a recent analysis of parking levels at four major downtown developments and found that while they average 1.29 parking spaces per unit, at peak occupancy they average only 0.94 spaces per unit occupied.

The developments in that study were Optima Horizons at 800 Elgin Road, Optima Towers at 1580 Sherman Ave., Optima Views at 1720 Maple Ave. and The Reserve at 1930 Ridge Ave.

The report argues that excessive parking requirements make market rate housing more expensive, increasing the asking price of a unit by as much as 12.5 percent, reduce the number of affordable housing units, tie up land that could be used for other uses, encourage people to own more cars and drive more and disproportionately burden the poor, old, yougn and disabled, who end up subsidizing transportation for the relatively more affluent.

The staff recommendations were scheduled to be presented at a Transportation and Parking Committee meeting tonight, which has since been cancelled. They’re now likely to be presented at the committee’s August or September meeting.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. And require that city staff

    And require that city staff live in those underparked buildings.  I've lived at 515 Main for 15 years, since it opened, and the alleys on both sides of Main, as well as the alley entrances, are perpetually filled with illegal parkers.  Call 311?  Call the police?  Call the parking watch dogs?  If they arrive at all, it's usually too late to clear out the problem.  How about you rebate property taxes on properties whose parking spaces you can't give us access to?

  2. This is a terrific idea
    These seemingly small development rules changes have really important effects on our communities. This will make Evanston a more compact and more affordable place to live. This will inturn attract innovative business and grow our tax base. Three cheers to the staff on this one.

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