Published on May 05, 2016
The parking rules in the City of San Diego are generally collected in the Municipal Code, not in individual community plan documents. This presents an opportunity for parking policy to become streamlined, and comprehensive in its approach. However, current parking rules in San Diego lack cohesion.
Parking policy in San Diego is complex, inconsistent, and difficult for developers to navigate. The parking code represents a hodgepodge of different policies, layered on top of one another over time, reflect a variety of sometimes conflicting and shifting policy goals. In some circumstances, parking minimums for new developments are reduced because of lower expected or demonstrated demand. More frequently, parking minimums are increased, on the assumption that certain areas need added parking, or perhaps more cynically, to keep new developments from coming to those neighborhoods at all.
“For almost every new home constructed in San Diego, at least one new parking space is required to be built.”
For almost every new home constructed in San Diego, at least one new parking space is required to be built. This is true for even studio apartments and other homes well served by transit. San Diego’s parking rules assume every resident will drive for all of their trips. These rules are inconsistent with reality, where many San Diegans do not own a car, or would like to live without having to own a car and pay rent for car storage in the form of a reserved parking spot.
Parking minimums for new developments are generally intended to reduce the impact of a new building to the neighborhood, by limiting the number of new neighbors that use limited street parking. However, parking requirements for new developments have a variety of unintended consequences, famously identified as the “High Cost of Free Parking,” by Professor Donald Shoup,including the tendency to encourage traffic and drive up development costs and rents for end users.
While parking minimums may serve important purposes in some circumstances, parking minimums that are too high can hurt neighborhoods and limit the ability to achieve smart growth goals. The City of San Diego should examine parking reforms that will allow the City to meet its Climate Action Plan goals, and implement the General Plan’s City of Villages Strategy.
- Requests to lower parking requirements are burdensome and time-consuming.
- Reduction in parking minimums for areas near transit are minimal and limited.
- Assumption that all future residents will drive will not support mode share goals in the Climate Action Plan.