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Cambridge looks to eliminate parking requirements for new residential buildings

The Crimson reports a City Council committee has voted 5-0 to urge the entire council to eliminate parking requirements in the city zoning code for new residential buildings.


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That’s great news, including for those of us who live on the other side of the river as Boston tends to follow Cambridge’s smarter transportation practices with a 5-10 year delay.

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But this is an outdated policy. With the numerous transportation options available to city-dwellers, these parking requirements only serve as a barrier to development that can increase housing stock and lower market rents.

Save the parking requirements for the suburbs where you actually need a car.

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Forget them in the suburbs as well.

Where did cities come from? Less dense settlements that grew. We shouldn't make that process illegal.

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More housing and fewer cars is the best way to combat the housing and climate crises. Any decent person values housing for people over storage for cars.

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I'm a decent person, and I value my housing and storage for all my things, including my vehicles. But I digress...

How does this theoretically lessen the "housing crisis," unless they are also requiring new developments to be primarily "affordable" units? There is loads of residential development in the area, but it frequently seems to be various "luxury" units.

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I'm glad they didn't mention a provision that people in such buildings aren't allowed to park on the street, in order to reserve street parking for people who have driveways. But it could still get included in the final ordinance.

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But understand this….

With rising home ownership costs or rent come those who own cars and will keep them regardless of available parking. If they can afford to keep a car, they will. I think we are just scratching the surface when it comes to human tolerance of sitting in traffic, especially as technological entertainment increases. Simply eliminating parking spots will not stop car owners from driving and it will definitely not lower the amount of lyft or uber vehicles, especially as public transport costs increase. A better idea to decrease driving would be increasing T reliability, affordability, cleanliness, and making sure it stays safe for the people who use it and rely on it. Making public transport free will also not solve the problem.


“Research has also found that when fares are removed, only a small number of people who previously traveled by car make the switch. New passengers attracted by it tend to be pedestrians and cyclists rather than car drivers.”

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Plenty of studies show that eliminating parking spots DOES reduce car ownership: https://www.sightline.org/2021/01/28/more-parking-isnt-harmless-it-actua...

Buildings with at least one parking space per unit (as required by zoning codes in most U.S. cities, and in San Francisco until circa 2010) have more than twice the car ownership rate of buildings that have no parking

Or here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257425389_Does_residential_park....

But yes, good public transportation is important. Luckily, here in Cambridge we have some of the best access to public transportation in the country, all the more reason to get rid of parking minimums.

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The first study is not really about people with extraneous amounts of money, so I don’t think it applies.

But yes, you are correct in saying if there was nowhere to park, you would not drive. I for one, wouldn’t mind certain areas to be completely car free…like this:



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All this proves is the obvious: that people with cars prefer housing with parking, and those without a car don’t need to factor that in when finding a place to live. Duh.

Correlation doesn’t equal causation, in other words.

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those who own cars and will keep them regardless of available parking

If there isn't available parking, where are they keeping these cars? Unless they've invented a foldable car you can store in your Cambridge 2-bedroom, I'm not sure that this is actually true.

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Market price of off-street parking goes up as the new rich residents rent or buy the spaces. The former parkers shift to the street.

In some parts of Cambridge, the streets are 100% full most nights. But not in other parts. And even where the streets are full, not every off-street space is used, but some would get used if the owners could rent them out for more money.

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The folks a MIT made foldable cars years ago. Keep it quiet though, it's a Cantabrigian only secret. j/k

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American cities are so behind on this compared to European .

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What could possibly go wrong?

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