I moved to San José five years ago—or, to be more exact, I moved to Alum Rock with my aunt and her family. At the time, I also worked at a cafeteria and got home at around 3 p.m. every day, which was perfect because there was plenty of street parking in front of my aunt’s house, given that most people didn’t get off work until 5 p.m. This also meant I couldn’t move my car after 3 p.m., otherwise I would risk having to park near the cemetery and walk 2–3 blocks home, depending on where I found a parking spot. Even nowadays, you can tell there are more people living in the neighborhood than it was originally intended for by the amount of cars parked creatively in the streets and driveways.
Although parking space in my neighborhood is a hot commodity, I am delighted that last week, City Council voted unanimously to eliminate parking minimum requirements in most areas of the city for new developments joining Sacramento, Berkeley, Emeryville, Alameda, and San Diego as Californian cities that have implemented some form of policy to eliminate parking minimums. This policy would also incentivize alternative modes of transportation, like biking and public transit—something that I fully support and am excited about, though my family, not so much (at least, not yet).
What does this mean for a car-centric city like San José, and more specifically for communities like the east side, where my family lives?
Firstly, eliminating parking minimums does not mean that the already existing parking will be taken away. (My aunt’s neighborhood parking situation will remain the same, for instance.) Instead, this new policy will remove mandates on developments to have an arbitrary, antiquated amount of parking that ends up sitting unused. They’ll bring into balance the number of parking spots with other ways of getting around. To be clear, this doesn’t mean developers won’t provide any parking at all. It means the city won’t dictate a minimum amount of parking a developer must build, instead allowing a project’s parking to be sized right, according to the context.