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CA’s Latest Laws Alter Parking & Housing Regulation Statewide
HELLO HOUSING, GOODBYE PARKING - MEET AB 2011 / 2097
Land use in the Golden State just got a serious shakeup, as Governor Newsom signed off on a slate of housing and transportation laws. Most consequential among those are AB 2011 (and its labor-aligned complement SB 6,) as well as AB 2097.
AB 2097 comes with a prosaic name - "Residential, commercial, or other development types: parking requirements" - that belies its outstanding impact; it effectively kills parking requirements across the state's more urban areas. While the immediately obvious affect is that it will reduce housing and business owners' costs (since structured parking can cost up to $50,000 per spot,) the long term benefits to cities and curbs statewide will be enormous. The bill, authored by Assemblyperson Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), will prevent municipalities from requiring most new developments (including bars, restaurants, retails, and housing) to include new parking spaces. To qualify, the project must be within half a mile of a major transit stop.
While some preservers of the status quo may see this as a sign that the sky is falling, the truth is that change will come relatively slowly, given both the pace of development, and the risk-averse nature of construction lenders, who may initially be loathe to finance low-parking developments when they've built decades of financial models that assume an abundance of asphalt; again it's important to note that the bill doesn't ban new parking, it bans the requirement of new parking.
Chatting with Mohit Shewaramani, of urban-oriented development firm Space Craft, he pointed out the bill's benefits aren't just limited to renters. "In our experience, the most obvious benefit is the ability to create cheaper and more housing. Instead of spending $20-30K per parking spot, we can allocate dollars to sustainable materials, useful services, and lower rent checks. And without the constraint of stringent parking ratios, we can choose to allocate more of each building lot to vibrant, dense housing.
Eliminating parking minimums unlocks more than just housing production: without parking as a primary constraint, we are able to program much more of our ground floors with active uses like retail. This flexibility is crucial in our ability to offer a variety of experiences for residents and visitors, from a ground-floor space that will soon become the newest location of a popular local coffee roastery to an alleyway with micro-retail storefronts for budding small businesses.
Crucially, eliminating parking minimums is not about eliminating parking - it’s about removing cars as the exclusive organizing principle of our built environment. Some developments, including some of ours, will continue to include a limited amount of parking when appropriate. But instead of being forced to exclusively build for residents that use a car for all of their mobility needs, we are able to offer residents choices: transit (blocks away), electric bikes (available for residents in the lobby), electric cars (available for residents to rent by the hour or day), and, of course, ridesharing and delivery services."
Not only will this new bill end the crazy concept that patrons should *drive* to a bar, it will help create more walkable neighborhoods that encourage valuable foot-traffic, while spurring the further growth of delivery companies (if you don't want to look for parking, let a courier bring that burger to you, hopefully after interacting with a well regulated loading zone...)
Worth noting is that the effects of this bill won't be felt evenly across the state, as California's two mega-regions have rather different levels of transit coverage. In the Bay Area, there's a dense network of qualifying neighborhoods in SF proper, and parts of Oakland, but the rest of the region is sadly under-served. In Greater LA, the bill will impact not just the city's core, but the Valley, the SGV, swaths of Orange County, and even some of the older parts of the Inland Empire. See the (approximate) maps below for more details, but if I were a Silicon Valley politico, I'd be pretty darn embarrassed that random date orchards in the Coachella Valley get better transit service than the HQs of some the country's most famous companies.
A TALE OF TWO (MEGA) CITIES?
HOT INDUSTRY NEWS & GOSSIP
Electrifying delivery! Canadian courier GoBolt places order for 70 electric vans, while a major Pizza Hut franchisee starts using adorable ElectraMeccanica SOLO Cargos to move hot pies. Delivery workers reportedly love using EVs as well, as evidenced by this Rivian and Amazon development. And Cenntro unveils two new electric delivery vans.
Droning on... Does this mean Baby Back Ribs can fly? Former Chili's CEO joins the board of drone delivery startup Zipline. Meanwhile, Google-backed flying car project Kitty Hawk shuts down, because maybe what people really want are bike lanes and safe streets?
Mixed news from New York: NYC proposes letting citizens "narc" on bike lane violators, in a move that is sure to endear cyclists to the larger community. Speaking of curb conflicts, City Councilors seem to be moving towards shutting down the beloved outdoor dining program, despite the fact that it generates as much as 500% more in taxes for the city. Sadder yet, the NYPD appears to have gone back to ticketing hard working street vendors. For a little good news, the city is finally discussing ending parking requirements; at the state level, Governor Hochul announced that by 2035, all new cars will need to be zero emissions.
Continued California coverage: Beyond the bills highlighted earlier, Governor Newsom signed a few other momentous pieces of legislation. One allows farmworkers to more easily unionize. Another updates the vehicle code to be more bike friendly. SB 972 adds protections for street vendors. And while a bill to give tax credits to folks who don't own a car got vetoed, at least San Diego has a new program that's getting electric bikes into the hands of the people that most need them.
More delivery news: AV delivery upstart Clevon heads to DFW. ASAP keeps inking major league partnerships, but will it be enough to get people to pick them over Doordash, Uber Eats, or Grubhub? Kroger launches its own delivery service... shouldn't we be in a consolidation phase by now? Each new player makes it even hard for cities to control their curbsides. Speaking of grocers, HNGRY takes a look at the biggest developments at this year's Groceryshop conference. Uber-owned Drizly hopes customers are looking for ads in their apps for apertifs. Fedex and UPS warn of too much delivery capacity. Too much!
Car crazy Bangkok considers congestion pricing! While much of Asia is famed for its transit-oriented landscape, Thailand instead chose to embrace the automobile. Today, the middle income country produces more cars than automotive stalwarts like Canada and Italy. In its capital region of 10 million plus, transit has had a rocky history, with a metro system mega-project famously cancelled in the 90s after billions had been spent on pylons to nowhere. Today, greater Bangkok has less than 100 miles of underground and elevated rail, making it more akin to Dallas than Paris (or Osaka.) Because of that ignominious history, its particularly impressive that city officials are considering implementing congestion pricing. The region's crushing traffic has only gotten worse as commuters return post-pandemic; here's hoping the money goes to speeding up that transit build out!
Displacement by design? Take a look at this interactive piece showing the sullied legacy of America's urban highway system, which infamously displaced black and brown families across the country. But how should we think about the handful of cities where freeway builders actually displaced fewer minorities relative to their proportion of the region's population?
Laggardly links: Another reason not to visit Omaha, as the Mayor kills the city's only protected bike lane. This startup wants to cover streets and sidewalks with new sensors, to power the next generation of autonomous vehicles. Newest LA Metro rail line to open next week. What's in the bag?! (If you're an Uber driver, it might be drugs.) Speaking of Uber, new app lets users find the best rideshare or transportation option for a given trip (but hopefully not for muling drugs...) Understanding the "builder's remedy." How to use LPR to spy on people. Hopefully, for Nikola's sake, the land on this ranch goes downhill both ways.
Until next week,
- Jonah Bliss & The Curbivore Crew