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San Jose Could Cut Parking Requirements For New Developments

San Jose planning officials are split on a proposal to eliminate minimum parking requirements for new building projects and what it could mean for the future of the city.

The San Jose Planning Commission voted 6-2-3 Wednesday to receive a report with several alternatives for reducing parking spaces. Commissioners Rolando Bonilla and Jorge Garcia voted against the plan. Commissioners George Casey, Mariel Caballero and Maribel Montañez were absent.

Staff wants to eliminate the city’s decades-old minimum parking requirement, which forces developers to include a certain number of parking spaces for cars on any new project.

San Jose currently requires 1.7 parking spaces for every two-bedroom housing unit in multi-dwelling residential buildings, while food, beverage or grocery stores must have one parking space per 200 square feet of area dedicated to retail sales.

According to a staff presentation, parking is expensive to build, costing $30,000 to $75,000 per space. The parking mandate also raises the cost of development, hinders the reduction of vehicle emissions, increases urban heat islands and removes the incentive to walk, bike or use public transit...

Interest in cutting down parking in San Jose has been growing in recent months as advocates debate the pros and cons of reducing the city’s historic reliance on cars. With a goal to make sure no more than 25% of commuter trips are made by solo drivers by 2040, San Jose officials want to improve public transit and build up infrastructure in the downtown core so people are more willing to walk or bike...

“I love the idea,” said Commissioner Charles Cantrell, noting his family recently cut back to one car, forcing them to walk more. “It changed my perspective on my community and keeps me closer to my neighborhoods, and also keeps my wallet closer to my neighborhood.”

Other commissioners said they’re interested in the concept, but are concerned about how it would impact families. Commissioner Deborah Torrens said she has four children and walking long distances to the grocery store or a community pool isn’t practical.

“For parents trying to raise children, I don’t want to put more barriers in the way of that,” Torrens said, adding she would prefer the City Council adopt the alternative of eliminating the minimum parking requirements in planned growth areas. “A gradual approach is a good approach.”

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