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San Diego City Council Removes Parking Requirements For Housing Developments

Author: Jeff Powers
Created: 05 March, 2019
Updated: 21 November, 2022
2 min read

San Diego, Calif- By a vote of 8-1 Monday, the San Diego City Council removed developer parking requirements for new condominium and apartment complexes in neighborhoods near mass transit.

The "near" mass transit requirement is defined as neighborhoods located within half a mile of a trolley line, a bus rapid transit station or two high-frequency bus routes.

And, the transit must be operating or scheduled to begin operating within five years.

The city report points to San Francisco as a model of "Zero Parking Minimums" and states parking is not free, that one spot can cost developers $35 to $90,000 to create.

The theory being removing those parking requirements will lower the cost of housing.

The policy sets a maximum of one parking space per unit for new apartment and condominium projects downtown, does not apply to single-family homes or commercial projects, and is not retroactive; it only applies to new construction.

Because the policy change is an ordinance, the council must approve it a second time in coming weeks.


The lone dissenting city council vote came from District 2 City Councilwoman Dr. Jen Campbell. Dr. Campbell said, "Not having parking will neither provide mass transit nor will it directly provide more housing. The removal of parking requirements should be one of the last steps in moving our city away from car-centric transit, instead of one of the first."

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who is pushing this as part of his density bonus plan, hailed the lower parking requirements. “We need to get government out of the way so constructing homes becomes easier, less expensive and faster,” he told the council. “These parking reforms set the city on the right path for the future as new mobility technologies emerge and younger generations increasingly want new cost-saving options.”

Mayoral candidates Barbara Bry and Todd Gloria support the density bonus plan and corresponding vote on parking.

Cory Briggs has come out against the plan, indeed Briggs pointed to the housing density plan as a catalyst for his candidacy.

Density Bonus Program

Faulconer is pushing this density bonus plan in hopes of addressing the lack of affordable housing.

Here are some of the density bonus program changes:

  • Offering 10 percent density bonus for projects not going beyond maximum permitted building footprint
  • Allowing developers to be eligible for an incentive or a waiver even if they don’t request a density bonus
  • Allowing for 100 percent density bonus for micro-unit production for projects not going beyond permitted building footprint
  • Easing zoning regulations to create more live/work developments
  • Implementing parking exemptions for designated historic structures
  • Changing ground floor height limits in mixed zones to 13 feet to allow for three-story buildings in 30-feet height limits