In Saint Paul, most properties must have a certain amount of off-street parking. These “minimum parking requirements” have serious impacts on housing affordability, business flexibility, economic development and climate change. Updating these requirements was identified for study by the 2040 Comprehensive Plan and a 2018 Planning Commission resolution. Additionally, the City’s Climate Action and Resiliency Plan cites reducing off-street parking requirements and encouraging alternative modes of transportation as strategies to reduce greenhouse gases.

Planning staff have proposed two options ("reduce") and (“eliminate”) for the Planning Commission to recommend to the City Council for adoption.

Two webinars were held to provide an overview of the study and the two options proposed:

  • Thursday, April 15: WATCH
  • Tuesday, April 20: WATCH

The next opportunity for public comment will be when the City Council holds a public hearing, anticipated this summer.  Questions can be sent to Tony Johnson, Senior City Planner, and Menaka Mohan, Principal City Planner, at ParkingStudy@stpaul.gov.

Parking Study (March 19, 2021) Parking Study Amendment Guide Presentation Slides 

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Background

The City’s parking minimums were last updated almost a decade ago and are out of date with land use best practices, modern market demand for parking, and policies in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

Under the current parking code, parking minimums are calculated to exceed demand so there is always empty parking spaces. Developers, property owners and tenants absorb the high cost of these extra parking spaces. These parking minimums also assume that cars are the only way to get from Point A to Point B, with little consideration of other nearby available transportation modes or neighborhood density. The requirements provide little flexibility for property owners to use these extra parking spaces for other uses, such as patio or outdoor shopping space, without City intervention.

Today, about 36% of Saint Paul’s land is dedicated to moving and storing automobiles. Reducing or eliminating parking requirements benefits Saint Paul by:

  • increasing housing affordability and construction costs,
  • giving new flexibility to small business owners who want to use their off-street parking for other uses,
  • supporting economic growth, and 
  • reducing carbon emissions and making walking, biking and transit more appealing.
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Recommendations

Planning staff have proposed two options for recommendation by the Planning Commission.

  • Option 1: REDUCE

    • The reduce option provides flexibility for developers and small business owners by:

      • removing parking minimums for:

        • the first 3000 sq. ft. of most commercial development,
        • affordable housing units at or less than 60% Area Median Income (AMI)
        • buildings built before 1955, and
        • properties near light rail, streetcar or bus rapid transit.
      • giving developers and small businesses a list of voluntary actions to remove the minimum requirement, if they choose. Some voluntary actions include:
        • providing transit passes to employees,
        • building protected bike parking, and
        • investing in traffic street calming.
  • Option 2: Full Elimination:
    • The eliminate option reduces administrative burden for small businesses and developers by eliminating all parking minimums.
    • Properties with more than 25 residential units or 20,000 square feet gross floor area would be required to invest in actions that encourage additional means of transportation besides cars.

Both options:

  • updates the City’s travel demand management (TDM) ordinance to:

    • create a TDM Program Standards Guide,
    • eliminate the traffic modeling requirement, and;
    • incentivize developers to provide transportation alternatives, such as transit and carpooling.
  • changes off-street surface parking maximums
  • separates bicycle parking from car parking requirements
  • creates minimum bike parking requirements
  • updates shared parking, alley access, and other parking lot design standards, and
  • allows businesses to use their off-street parking for short-term event parking.
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Timeline

Two webinars were held to provide an overview of the study and the two options proposed:

  • Thursday, April 15: WATCH
  • Tuesday, April 20: WATCH

The next opportunity for public comment will be when the City Council holds a public hearing, anticipated this summer.  Questions can be sent to Tony Johnson, Senior City Planner, and Menaka Mohan, Principal City Planner, at ParkingStudy@stpaul.gov.

Parking Study (March 19, 2021) Parking Study Amendment Guide Presentation Slides 

Date Body Action
Friday, August 10, 2018 Planning Commission

Initiate parking study

Monday, August 13, 2018 Transportation Committee Provide background on parking study
Wednesday, January 27, 2021 Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee

Review Meeting #1: Overview

Wednesday, February 3, 2021 Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee

Review Meeting #2: Chapter 60, 63 and Article II

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee Review Meeting #3: Chapter 63 (Article III) and 61 amendment
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee

Review Meeting #4: Transportation Demand Management (TDM) amendments and TDM Program Standards Guide.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee Review Meeting #5: Working Session
Wednesday, March 10, 2021 Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee Review Meeting #6: Working Session
Friday, March 19, 2021 Planning Commission

Release study for public comment and set public hearing for April 30, 2021

Friday, April 30, 2021 Planning Commission

Public hearing

June/July 2021 Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee Review public comment and make a recommendation to Planning Commission.
July/August 2021 Planning Commission Review recommendation from Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Commission, make recommendation to City Council
July/August 2021 City Council Public hearing and vote

 

Last Edited: May 10, 2021