California: Park Reform Goes Into Effect January 1 | Reed Smith

[co-author: Sara Eddy]

Less parking and more living or just less parking?

Beginning January 1, 2023, it will be a little easier for developers to figure out park configurations for development projects in California. 2022.

AB 2097 prohibits public authorities from imposing or enforcing minimum car parking requirements for residential, commercial or other development projects if the project is within a half-mile walk of a “high-value transit corridor” or a “major transit stop.” A high quality transit corridor is a corridor with scheduled bus service with service intervals of no more than 15 minutes during peak hours. A major transit stop is a location with an existing rail or rapid transit bus station, a ferry terminal served by bus or rail, or the intersection of two or more major bus routes with a frequency of 15 minutes or less during peak commute times.

This means that a developer with a qualifying project can allocate more floor space to utility areas and units and less to parking lots. AB 2097 can help reduce housing costs and greenhouse gas emissions while increasing the number of available housing units, the bill’s legislative findings say.

There are a number of exceptions to the rule. For example an authority can Require minimum parking spaces for a project when necessary to avoid a significant adverse impact on the city or county’s ability to meet regional housing needs for low-income, disabled or elderly people, or existing parking spaces within a half-mile of the proposed one Project.

In addition, GA 2097 does not apply where it would conflict with a public authority engagement completed before 1 January 2023, with the proviso that All commercial parking spaces required under this contract will be shared with the public. The bill also excludes projects where a portion is earmarked for use as a hotel, motel, bed and breakfast inn, or other temporary lodging. Projects with a portion intended for residential hotel use containing six or more guest rooms used primarily as a primary residence by transient guests do fall under AB 2097.

Other exceptions include housing projects that dedicate at least 20 percent of their housing units to low- and middle-income households or students, the elderly, or people with disabilities, projects with fewer than 20 units, or those that apply parking concessions to other laws are also exempt.

Public authorities may continue to enforce existing requirements for new residential or non-residential multi-family developments within a half-mile radius of public transit to provide parking spaces with utility equipment for electric vehicles or parking spaces accessible to persons with disabilities.

According to that California Daily News, some of the bill’s opponents say AB 2097 could weaken already ongoing local efforts to increase affordable housing production near transit centers. One possible scenario is that a local authority can offer a reduction in parking needs if the developer adds affordable housing units to their project. With AB 2097, the developer does not need local incentives; it can rely on AB 2097 for parking reductions and not add affordable units. The state will watch for “serious unintended consequences,” according to the governor’s signing message. The Department for Housing and Community Development will closely monitor the impact of AB 2097, which according to newsis the first bill of its kind in the United States.

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