County Council to Consider Proposed Changes to New Housing Parking Requirements

The County Council will consider a proposed law to remove certain parking requirements for new housing projects.

On Tuesday, Council President Evan Glass, Vice President Andrew Friedson, and Councilmember Kristin Mink announced the proposed change to zoning law, which aims to promote living without a car and the construction of more affordable housing near transit hubs by reducing parking requirements.

MCM reports that under current law, new apartment buildings need to provide parking spaces for residents, even if they don’t ask for them. In downtown urban areas, these spaces must be underground, with an estimated cost of $70,000 to $100,000 per space, according to Glass.

“Montgomery County is experiencing a housing shortage, and we must adopt meaningful reforms to address this crisis,” Glass said. “According to the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, it costs between $70,000 to $100,000 to build each underground parking space that is required for new development in our urban areas. Reducing parking near transit is a commonsense approach that will make housing more affordable, help us reach our housing goals, and move us toward a more sustainable, green future.”

New apartment buildings are being planned near public transportation in downtown Silver Spring, including developments at Ellsworth Place and the former Tastee Diner site, as well as the ongoing construction of Atwell on Spring.

If approved, Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 23-10, Parking, Queuing and Loading – Calculation of Required Parking (PDF), would promote the construction of housing, including affordable units, close to transit routes, and would also assist the county in achieving its climate objectives by reducing the number of cars on the road, according to a press release.

“This bill does not take away existing parking. It simply allows future, transit-oriented residential construction to right-size parking – to include only the amount of parking the market actually needs, rather than a blanket government-imposed minimum,” Mink said. “Minimum parking mandates are outdated policies that create wasted space, needlessly increase the cost of housing, incentivize increased car use and run counter to both our housing and climate goals.”

The new zoning measure would remove the need for parking within a half-mile of a Metro and Purple Line station and within a quarter-mile of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) stations. It would also make changes to the county’s zoning rules related to parking, queuing, and loading near transit.

“This commonsense reform abandons outdated, government imposed, one-size-fits-all policies of the past and embraces modern, market-based approaches to address our housing and climate goals,” Friedson said. “We shouldn’t impose unnecessary costs on desperately needed housing that contradicts our environmental goals and our interest in building more livable, walkable communities.”

All Councilmembers have joined as cosponsors of the zoning measure, which is scheduled for a public hearing on Jan. 16.

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