Minimum Parking Requirements: Transit Proximity and Development in New York City

Publication Date: November 2009

Publisher: Furman Center for Real Estate

Author(s): Simon McDonnell; Josiah Madar; Vicki Been

Research Area: Social conditions

Keywords: Community and Economic Development

Type: Working Paper


New York City policymakers are planning for a city of over 9 million residents by 2030, a large increase from today. A central goal of City officials is to accommodate this increase while simultaneously improving the City’s overall environmental performance, addressing externalities arising from traffic congestion and providing increased access to affordable housing. The requirement in the City’s zoning code that new residential construction be accompanied by a minimum number of off-street parking spaces, however, may conflict with this goal. Critics argue that parking requirements bundle the cost of unnecessary new parking with new housing, not only increasing the cost of housing, but also reducing the density at which it can be built. Facilitating car ownership by requiring parking may also lead to increases in auto-related externalities. In this research, we combine a theoretical discussion of parking requirements in New York City with a quantitative analysis of how they relate to transit and development opportunity. Using lot-level data and GIS we estimate two measures of the parking requirement for each lot and at a City, borough and neighborhood level. Our results indicate that the per unit parking requirement is, on average, lower in areas near rail transit stations, consistent with the City’s development goals. However, we also find that the required number of spaces per square foot of land area is higher, on average, in these areas. This raises interesting questions about the role of parking requirements in determining the use of scarce land resources in transit-rich neighborhoods.