Zoning amendment to limit off-street parking requirements for affordable housing developments

by Liz Hughes

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu signed the amendment to the city’s zoning code to help streamline and remove burdens in developing affordable housing.

In a bid to remove barriers to creating new affordable housing in Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu recently signed an amendment to the city’s zoning code that eliminates off-street parking minimums for affordable-housing developments.

This was the final step after the amendment’s unanimous approval by both the Boston Zoning Commission in October and the Boston Planning & Development Agency last month.

The amendment removes parking minimums for residential developments where at least 60% of the units are income restricted at 100% area median income or below. Wu said these steps will “streamline and remove burdens in developing affordable housing in Boston.”

“We need every tool in our toolbox to address our city’s housing crisis,” Wu said in a  press release. “Eliminating parking minimums removes an outdated standard from our zoning code and will spur new housing to make it easier for Bostonians to live and stay in our city.” 

According to the mayor’s office, the zoning change doesn’t eliminate all parking, but instead it allows each project developer to determine how much off-street parking is needed based on resident  needs, rather than using what they referred to as an “existing, outdated formula.”

BPDA director Brian Golden said eliminating parking minimums for affordable housing developments in the city is a big step toward expediting much-needed transit-oriented housing and moving forward on our climate and sustainability goals.” The zoning amendment works in conjunction with the city’s new Transportation Demand Management development review guidelines. Launched in November, they require developments over 50,000 square feet to adhere to guidelines launched to reduce traffic and congestion in the city. The guidelines include the completion of a demand management point system tool to increase tenant access to sustainable transportation, as well as maximum parking ratios based on a development’s walkability and mobility choices.

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