Arlington County Reduces Parking Requirements for Multi-Family Developments on Metro Corridors

In addition to reducing parking requirements to 0.2 to 0.6 spaces per unit for developments “approved by special exception,” the board went a step further by requiring mitigations if developers provide more than 1.65 spaces per unit.

Arlington County has joined a regional movement toward lowering, if not eliminating, off-street parking requirements for multifamily developments that are located along its two major transit corridors, Rosslyn-Ballston and Jefferson Davis Metro. New developments that already have a low 0.8 space per market-rate unit parking requirement can now become more affordable with fewer required parking spaces when “approved by special exception,” according to the County Board’s news release on Nov. 18.

“These guidelines reflect the fact that the increase in transportation options in our Metro corridors means that some new developments will require less parking,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said.

Parking ratios are based on distance from the nearest Metro station entrance and are further reduced for affordable units due to data from the Arlington Choice Voucher Program and 2015 Arlington Resident Transportation Survey that show that lower income residents are less likely to own motor vehicles. [See slide 16 in staff presentation [pdf].

“Reductions of up to 50 percent of the minimum parking ratios will be granted in exchange for elements such as transit infrastructure, expanded bike parking, bike share, and/or car-share amenities on site,” according to the news release.

Should developers wish to provide “excess parking,” i.e., above 1.65 spaces per unit in the corridor, mitigations will be required, either:

  • Tandem or mechanical stacker parking configuration, or
  • Mitigation contribution of $3,060 per space per year for 30 years to be used to support Arlington County programs that encourage the use of biking, walking, transit, and car sharing in project vicinity.

“‘Keeping excess parking . . . has really high costs for the county,’ said Katie Cristol (D), the board’s vice chair, who described the change as ‘not a cudgel, but a series of carrots,'” reports Patricia Sullivan for The Washington Post on Nov. 24  “We’re not trying to badger anybody into a lifestyle that doesn’t match their needs.

However, the guidelines didn’t go over well with many in attendance at the Nov. 18 County Board meeting who appeared to perceive that the change would result in no parking rather than reduced parking provided for tenants, writes Sullivan.

“Please do not discourage young families and parents with kids from living in this area by encouraging a ‘car-free diet’ to an extreme,” said Puja Valiyil, 35, a mother of four.

Speaking in support was Cheryl Cort, policy director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth, who “said that reducing the number of required parking places will give developers and residents ‘better choices.'” writes Sullivan.

For more information on the new guidelines, see Nov. 16 county manager recommendation [pdf].

Other jurisdictions in the Washington metropolitan area lowering parking requirements cited by Sullivan:

  • The District of Columbia last year rezoned minimum parking requirements for multifamily residences in many areas and reduced parking minimums close to Metro or bus routes in other parts of the city to less than one space for every five units.
  • Fairfax County, Va. limited the maximum number of parking spots at buildings within a quarter-mile of Metro stations in Tysons Corner seven years ago, and is considering lowering the minimum parking requirements near other transit stations.
  • In Montgomery County, Md., multifamily buildings must provide one parking space per bedroom, but less parking is required for affordable units and age-restricted buildings.
  • Prince George’s County, Md., is working on a proposal to remove all minimum parking requirements for buildings near certain regional transit zone.
Hat tip to Jay Warner.
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