POSITION ON RESIDENTIAL PARKING
ADOPTED SEPTEMBER 2005
The mission of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC) is to promote well-designed and well-located housing serving the needs of all San Franciscans. We take positions on transportation and other planning and urban design issues insofar as they impact housing production. This paper states the SFHAC’s position on residential parking.
Providing parking facilities in residential developments increases the per unit construction costs for a given project, which can result in an increase in the price of housing for individual buyers and renters. Environmentally sustainable and economically efficient modes of transport - such as car-pooling, car-sharing, transit, bicycling, and walking - should be strongly encouraged to make San Francisco a more livable city. Similarly, minimizing reliance on private automobiles would advance this goal.
Infill housing located in areas well-served by walking, bicycling, and public transit tremendously benefits the region and the city because it helps to alleviate our housing shortage, provides greater accessibility for residents, and has the least impact on the physical environment.
For the foreseeable future, many people will continue to use private automobiles in the city and region as it is currently structured. In the long run, we desire that San Francisco will evolve into a city where its residents are less dependent on cars and driving. But in the short run, we support a "transitional parking strategy" that addresses the city’s housing shortage while incrementally reducing automobile dependence.
We believe that the three key principles for an intelligent parking policy are flexibility, creativity and moderation:
In an attempt to strike a balance between the benefit of reduced construction costs, the satisfaction of consumer demand and preferences, and the requirements to obtain financing for new housing, the SFHAC has developed specific guidelines for project endorsements and for guiding our support of new residential parking zoning controls.
Project Endorsement Guidelines
The guidelines we will follow in our review of specific housing projects are as follows:
In districts where the minimum parking requirement is one parking space per residential unit (1:1) or more, the SFHAC will not, except in extraordinary circumstances, support a project with parking in excess of 1:1. In districts where the minimum parking requirement is less than 1:1, SFHAC will only support additional parking up to 1:1 if the need for additional is clearly established to the satisfaction of the SFHAC.
The SFHAC will give extra support to projects that reduce parking where appropriate, particularly in areas that are transit accessible. The Coalition prefers creative strategies to reduce the need for parking, such as transit linkages, car-sharing on-site or nearby, and the un-bundling of parking spaces from residential units.
The SFHAC’s endorsement of a project is never conditioned on a project providing less parking than the current minimum required by zoning. However, for those projects that seek to build less parking, we will provide support for variances or conditional use permits if such an approval is required to build below the minimum.
The SFHAC requires that the design of residential parking facilities protect the pedestrian realm, minimize curb cuts, and provide active ground floor uses. We encourage creative designs that configure parking spaces to maximize dwelling space in a given project. Where parking is provided on the ground floor, consider design solutions (such as level floors with adequate ceiling heights) that would allow conversion of parking spaces to other uses in the future
Zoning Reform Policies
The guidelines we will follow in formulating our legislative approach to new planning and zoning controls are as follows: