U area needs lower parking minimum

The city should consider lowering the area’s unique parking policy.

The city is considering changes to the current parking minimum around the University of Minnesota. We recommend a lower residential parking requirement for the University district in order to open up the area to more development and transit options.

As the Minnesota Daily reported last month, developers have complained that the current requirement inhibits growth, while business leaders are afraid of losing customers. The University District Alliance hosted a parking forum Wednesday that was open to the community. A citizen task force is studying the impact of the current policy and will eventually issue recommendations.

Minneapolis’ standard parking limit is one space per residential unit. In response to high-unit, high-density buildings, city planners in 2008 changed the University district’s minimum to 0.5 parking spaces per bedroom, but no less than one space per unit.

While the University area should lower the residential parking requirement, it shouldn’t raise commercial parking requirements. Many recent developments have added additional parking as a goodwill gesture to the neighborhood.

A lower parking requirement would be an interesting test case for the rest of the city. Minneapolis leaders hope to attract 100,000 more residents without adding more cars or parking. Instead, they’d like to use more biking and transit options.  A mixture of commercial parking and good-faith business parking in the University area could help other neighborhoods tackle parking challenges.

A good parking policy will strike a balance between the interests of developers and local business leaders. Lowering the residential parking limit could allow for more dense development and smarter transit options as the city tries to attract more residents.