Last month, the California state legislature approved Assembly Bill 2097. This bill would remove the parking space requirements for new developments near transit centers. Assemblywoman Laura Friedman wrote the bill, which now sits on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. Unless Newsom vetoes the bill, it will become law.
AB 2097 would affect any development that’s within a half mile of a transit stop. Currently, any developer that builds new buildings within this range must include a certain number of parking spaces for its residents. These parking spaces each add thousands of dollars to developers’ costs, making new developments an unwise investment for many.
Certain cities in California have already done away with these restrictions. For example, San Francisco, which has about 2.5 parking spaces for each car in the city, stopped requiring parking spaces in 2018. San Diego followed suit in 2019. This push is part of a push from urban centers to plan for a greener future where more people take public transit in a state where cars are king.
The Bill Would Reduce Parking while Increasing Livability
The bill’s proponents say that AB 2097 will have multiple positive impacts on California. One positive impact is on housing development, especially for affordable housing. Because of how much it costs developers to build each parking space, especially when building affordable housing, this bill could help encourage developers to build the housing that California cities sorely need.
AB 2097 will also help push the state closer to reaching its climate goals. Free parking spaces encourage people to use their cars and pollute the air. Without said parking, many people will instead opt for public transit, which could do wonders for the air quality in California.
However, not everyone agrees that AB 2097 will have the positive impact its backers claim. One of the positives of the parking requirements is that every business and office space has enough parking for all. This new bill might force workers to park farther from their offices, reducing their job satisfaction. There are also questions about whether the state’s public transit system is equipped to actually handle a big increase in riders.
Despite these concerns, the state legislature passed the bill last month. It’s up to the governor now to determine whether those risks are worth forgoing the reward.