Hold on a sec, I might need to do a “hypocrisy check” from now on so that I can fully disclose ahead of time if I am supporting something that I have no intention of ever being a consumer of or am not a current consumer.
All right folks, in a preview of today’s post, I currently am not going to be a consumer of affordable (low-income) housing nor in the near future will I require affordable senior housing. Nor, knock on wood, do I currently require the special needs housing. According to the metric laid out in Wednesday’s comments section, I am a hypocrite for encouraging the construction of this type of housing because I do not currently live in said housing nor do I have an intent to move into said housing. Now that’s all settled. On October 9th, the Governor signed into law a really encouraging new bill regarding the construction of affordable and senior housing. From Streetsblog:
A.B. 744, authored by Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), is limited to a few very specific types of housing, all meant to house population groups that tend to own few cars and drive less than the general population. Those are: housing for seniors, housing for special needs populations, and housing for low-income and very-low income people. It also applies to mixed-income developments that include a minimum number of affordable units. All categories are required to have a specified level of transit access.
Under the new law, if a developer of these types of housing asks to be allowed to build less parking than required by zoning regulations, a city has to allow it—as defined in the statute, see below—unless it can demonstrate that more parking is necessary. And A.B. 744 specifies what that “demonstration” would entail, not leaving it to a vague “parking study.” A parking study to show that a development needs more parking would have to be somewhat recent and based on “substantial evidence,” including area-wide parking availability, transit access, potential for shared parking, the effect of parking requirements on the cost of developments, and rates of car ownership among low-income, senior, and special needs individuals.
This shifts the burden of proof from the developer to the city, in the process codifying the assumption that in general these populations need and use fewer parking spots. And while it’s a win for affordable housing developers, it’s also a win for sustainable transportation, clean air, and climate change efforts.
Parking spaces are notoriously expensive to build and can increase the cost of housing exponentially which can make, what should be “affordable” housing, not affordable. Given that most special needs and low income housing are built by non profit developers who rely on a patchwork on funding to get these units built, one or two unnecessary parking spots make a difference. More details:
A.B. 744 allows developers of specific housing types to request lower parking minimums, to wit:
- 100 percent affordable housing within ½ mile of transit with frequent service: 0.5 parking spaces per unit
- 100 percent affordable housing for seniors, within ½ mile of somewhat frequent transit service OR with access to paratransit service: 0.5 parking spaces per unit
- 100 percent affordable housing for developmentally disabled adults, within ½ mile of somewhat frequent transit service OR with access to paratransit service: 0.5 parking spaces per unit
- Mixed-income housing within ½ mile of a well-served transit stop AND with at least 11 percent of the units set aside for extremely low-income residents or 20 percent set aside for low-income residents: 0.5 parking spaces per bedroom
Note that the new law does not completely eliminate all parking spaces. Reports of the death of parking minimums have been greatly exaggerated.
In a different Streetsblog post, one of the committee members had strong words for local jurisdictions standing behind these parking minimums to block development of affordable housing:
Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), who had been squirming in his seat during much of the discussion, spoke up. “I applaud you for bringing this bill,” he said to Chau, “because there are dozens of tone-deaf, bitter city councils that are using parking requirements to not allow affordable housing to be built in their communities, and somebody needs to say that.” City councils throughout the state of California, he said, need to “get the message that we need to move forward and stop playing games with parking requirements.”
There was a great visual of a parking space compare to living space but I can’t seem to locate it right now. All in all good news for affordable housing development, if these developments can make their way out of the design process.