Professor of urban planning Daniel B. Hess investigates the repealing of parking minimum requirements in Buffalo.
Minimum parking requirements, which mandate off-street parking and have been a staple of American zoning codes for more than 80 years, are slowly falling out of favor due to incompatibility with sustainable urbanism, equity, and social responsibility. A new zoning ordinance in Buffalo, New York completely removes minimum parking requirements citywide, relieving developers and property owners from the mandate to provide off-street parking. This article performs a comparative analysis of guidelines in the zoning code before and after reform and examines the public engagement process that produced the change in parking control. Strong support for and little opposition to this zoning change suggest less resistance than anticipated to policies that formalize a reduction in off-street parking facilities. Findings suggest that removing minimum parking requirements is easiest where off-street parking requirements are least needed, and that the planning team in Buffalo proposed a bold idea after it detected, from special interest groups and the public, initial support for removing parking requirements. The article provides direction for future research to evaluate the repeal of minimum parking requirement and its effects on transport, the environment, and the economy.
Daniel B. Hess, Professor
Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University at Buffalo
Journal of Urbanism