Brooklyn officials call for end to parking requirements in new rezonings

March 1, 2022 Editorial Staff
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Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, Councilmember Lincoln Restler (D-Heights-Downtown-DUMBO-Greenpoint) and other Brooklyn elected officials on Monday called on developers and the Department of City Planning to eliminate requirements for off-street parking in new construction in transit-rich Brooklyn neighborhoods, and instead prioritize a walkable city with more affordable housing. 

The request was explained to the Department of City Planning (DCP) in a letter signed by Brooklyn elected officials. The letter’s supporters are calling on DCP to ask all residential developers to add special permits that would fully waive parking requirements for any rezoning projects in transit-rich areas as a measure to reduce car use and ownership.

“Right now, we need to be laser-focused on tackling the climate crisis and creating affordable housing for our neighbors,” said Restler. “We are leveraging the collective power of elected officials in the land use process to eliminate construction of new parking spots on top of subway stations.”

“Discouraging car ownership in transit-rich neighborhoods will provide more public benefits in the realm of climate change and affordable housing development than personal inconvenience,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “We thank Council Member Restler for leading the advocacy to have the Brooklyn Department of City Planning act on the right side of the issue and eliminate residential off-street parking requirements in these areas.”

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In total, the borough president and nine Brooklyn councilmembers have embraced this new approach: Councilmember Restler, Councilmember Jennifer Gutierrez (District 34), Councilmember Crystal Hudson (District 35), Councilmember Chi Osse (District 36), Councilmember Sandy Nurse (District 37), Councilmember Alexa Avilés (District 38), Councilmember Shahana Hanif (District 39), Councilmember Rita Joseph (District 40), and Councilmember Farrah Louis (District 45).

Currently, most new residential development in Brooklyn requires developers to build off-street parking in both as-of-right and rezoned development sites. The elected officials expressed support for ending parking minimums in a comprehensive text amendment. 

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. Eagle Urban Media/Photo by Will Hasty

Until that happens, DCP can join elected officials in encouraging all developers to include special permit applications to waive parking requirements for any residential projects subject to rezoning. 

“Our city needs to get real about affordable housing and climate change,” said Councilmember Avilés. “On the one hand, we know New Yorkers spend an unacceptably high percentage of their income on housing, and we know that our coastlines are disappearing due to climate change, yet on the other hand we continue to drive up the scarcity of land by incentivizing car ownership through parking requirements.”

“Minimum parking requirements are a 20th century relic that have no place in a 21st century city, especially in neighborhoods that are easily accessible by subway and bus,” said Eric McClure, resident of StreetsPAC. “They make it more expensive to build housing, and create a perverse incentive to fill parking garages, leading to more cars and more congestion.”

“Parking minimums lead to more congestion and pollution, while making it more expensive to build housing and live in New York City,” said Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “Instead of mandating space for storing private cars, we should be making it easier to walk, bike, and take transit by reclaiming space from cars. This is the goal of our NYC 25×25 vision.”

“Parking minimums incentivize people to own and drive cars,” said Sara Lind, director of policy at Open Plans. “In the face of a climate crisis, an epidemic of traffic violence causing death and carnage on our streets, and a crippling lack of affordable housing, parking minimums are the exact wrong policy.” 

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