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News & Updates

Mayor Wu eliminates parking minimums for affordable housing developments

Dec 22, 2021

Today, Mayor Michelle Wu signed an amendment to the Boston Zoning Code to eliminate off-street parking minimums for affordable housing developments. The amendment will remove parking minimums for residential developments where at least 60 percent of the units are income-restricted at 100 percent Area Median Income (AMI) or below. This will streamline and remove burdens in developing affordable housing in Boston. 

“This action will help take down barriers to the creation of new affordable housing across the city,” said Mayor Wu.  “We need every tool in our toolbox to address our city’s housing crisis. Eliminating parking minimums removes an outdated standard from our zoning code and will spur new housing to make it easier for Bostonians to live and stay in our city.” 

This follows unanimous approval by the Boston Zoning Commission, as well as the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board last month.

“Eliminating parking minimums for affordable housing developments in Boston is a major step towards expediting much needed transit-oriented housing and moving forward on our climate and sustainability goals,” said BPDA Director Brian Golden. “I thank the BPDA staff and our partners in City Council who have helped us move this important zoning amendment forward.” 

The zoning change will not eliminate all parking at qualified residential projects, but rather will allow each individual project to determine the amount of off-street parking necessary based on the needs of the project's residents, rather than the existing, outdated formula.

The Boston City Council unanimously passed the text amendment to the zoning code at a meeting in October, put forward by Council President Pro Tempore Matt O’Malley and Councilor Kenzie Bok.

“The need to build affordable housing in Boston has never been more vital, with half of Boston's renters being rent-burdened,” said Council President Pro Tempore O’Malley. “Eliminating parking minimums is an impactful and commonsense policy solution that can provide transformative relief for affordable housing builders.”

“We know that every unit lost due to delay or the cost of unnecessary, mandated parking is a lost housing opportunity for someone who badly needs it. This zoning amendment allows the city and our partners to put homes for people first and remove parking minimums that don’t reflect our current needs,” said Councilor Kenzie Bok. “I’m so proud to have co-sponsored this with Councilor Matt O’Malley, and I’m grateful to folks like Mass Senior Action and others that shared and organized public testimony, as well as the BPDA, DND, and BTD for their partnership and support of this amendment.”

“Too many barriers get in the way of creating affordable housing that communities want,” said Stephanie Garrett-Stearns, vice president of communications and fund development for The Community Builders. “Removing parking minimums helps clear the way for more homes Boston residents can afford. Thanks to Mayor Wu, the BPDA, and the City of Boston for leading this reform to create a more inclusive and resilient city.” 

“Boston desperately needs more affordable housing and the costly parking minimum mandates were a barrier to that shared community goal,” said Executive Director of Abundant Housing Massachusetts Jesse Kanson-Benanav. “Today, that barrier was lifted. With the elimination of parking minimums for affordable housing we can expect to see more affordable homes being built for more people, more quickly across the entire City of Boston.”

Earlier this year, the BPDA and the Boston Transportation Department announced the new Transportation Demand Management development review guidelines. As part of the new guidelines, developers of large projects must complete a demand management point system tool to increase access to sustainable transportation for their tenants. The guidelines also include new maximum parking ratios that model the amount of parking built based on a development’s walkability and mobility choices. The maximum ratios will urge developments in walkable, transit-rich areas to build less parking than developments with fewer mobility options. 

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