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The Hidden Impacts of Vehicle Parking and Parking Policy

Parking lots, towers, and garages are ubiquitous in American cities. This is the result, in part, of mandatory minimum parking requirements present in many zoning codes. These requirements stem from the expectation that a person be able to drive to and from anywhere and park their car for relatively cheap if not completely free.

Minneapolis is no exception: local ordinances mandate a minimum number of parking spaces for many real estate development projects. These required parking spaces occupy land, cost money to construct, encourage people to drive, increase greenhouse gas emissions, and increase economic and racial disparities.

The Minneapolis 2040 Plan, approved in 2018, established a policy to “eliminate the requirement for off-street parking minimums throughout the city.”[1] Similarly, the City of Saint Paul established a policy to “Reduce or eliminate citywide minimum parking requirements” in its Climate Action & Resilience Plan.[2] Both cities are now in the process of implementing these policies in city code.

New Report

In a new study from Move Minnesota, we illustrate the effect of parking requirements (and lack of parking maximums) in Minneapolis to inform both Minneapolis and Saint Paul’s decision-making processes around parking reform.

This report has shown how parking takes space from housing and other uses; how parking drains money that could be used to support sustainable and healthy transportation options and housing; how parking generates greenhouse gas emissions at a time our communities seek and need to cut emissions; and how parking harms lower income and communities of color.

Parking in Minneapolis is abundant and ubiquitous. Similar patterns of parking and parking development exist in Saint Paul. Minimum parking requirements in cities’ zoning codes have contributed to the prevalence of parking and the associated reliance on cars in our communities.

The results of this study show that if Minneapolis, and other cities around the state of Minnesota and the country, were to eliminate or reduce parking requirements—while ensuring mobility for all—the cities would have more tools to support community, create space for housing, and fund transportation alternatives.

Read the full parking study here. Questions about the study? Contact Sam Rockwell. 

Get Involved

Twin Cities residents have the opportunity to attend events in Minneapolis and Saint Paul to discuss parking policies.

Minneapolis Planning Commission Meeting

Saint Paul Parking Study Webinars

[1] Minneapolis 2040 Plan, Policy 6 (2018)

[2] Saint Paul Climate Action & Resilience Plan (Dec. 2019), page 56