See How GreenTRIP Connect Can Address Our Housing Crisis
TransForm’s GreenTRIP Connect tool shows how we can make way for a more affordable and sustainable future in the Bay Area. Read on to see how the tool can promote more housing with transportation and climate benefits during your jurisdiction’s 2023-2031 Housing Element cycle!
While there are many solutions to address the housing crisis in the Bay Area, not everyone knows that reducing excess parking mandates and incorporating transportation demand management (TDM) strategies is critical for housing production while reducing driving, traffic, greenhouse gas emissions, and transportation costs for communities.
The high cost of providing too many parking spaces that are empty and underutilized is a major constraint on housing. Due to outdated parking codes, developers are forced to shoulder the burden of providing excess parking, raising the cost of building housing. This makes it harder to provide safe, affordable, and stable homes for the many people that need it. According to The Mineta Institute and SPUR’s Bay Area Parking Census, there are approximately 1.9 parking spaces for every person in the Bay Area and 2.4 spaces for every car. In addition to this parking glut, the cost of each new parking space costs $30,000 - $80,000. With inflation driving up construction costs by these estimates, two spaces may now cost up to $200,000. We need to optimize space for new homes, not vehicle storage.
Although TransForm has been pioneering ways to “right-size parking” (and in some cases, eliminate minimum parking mandates altogether) for over 20 years, TransForm is playing a pivotal role in response to this crisis by drafting a number of letters to cities, counties, and municipalities, urging them to include stronger language around parking reforms and TDMs in their 2023-2031 Housing Elements. A Housing Element is a long-term plan that outlines how a local jurisdiction will provide the homes needed, across all economic segments of the community, to meet existing needs and projected growth. These plans must identify sites for the housing as well as identify policies that constrain housing construction.
We have the unique opportunity to tackle this issue by providing input during the public comment period as municipalities release their Housing Elements. They can incorporate strong language around parking reform and include TDM strategies as a way to streamline development. Eliminating parking minimums, implementing unbundling (separating the cost of parking from the rent or home price), and requiring robust on-site transportation benefits are key to ensuring that our communities are securely housed and can get around in a sustainable and affordable manner.
TransForm is writing 25 letters to cities, counties, and municipalities using our GreenTRIP Connect tool to show the tremendous transportation and climate benefits of these policies, as well as some of the financial savings. We are using the tool to create scenarios for potential future developments sites, like 5724 West Las Positas Blvd. in Pleasanton, as identified in Pleasanton’s draft Housing Element Site Inventory.
GreenTRIP Connect predicts developers could save $7,259,000 there, relative to current parking standards. We also demonstrate how affordable housing drastically decreases parking demand and provides greater community benefits.
By implementing unbundling and providing transit passes at this site, we saw a 31 percent decrease in parking and resident transportation savings of $1,008 per year.
When combined with 100 percent affordable housing, these strategies resulted in an incredible 55 percent reduction in driving and greenhouse gas emissions for the site, compared to the county average.
If an affordable development with smart parking strategies were built on this site, each household would drive 6,227 less miles per year creating a greener and safer community.
By eliminating the high costs of parking, homes can be offered at more affordable prices, reducing the number of community members that face extreme housing cost burdens, getting priced out of their community, and/or becoming unsheltered. Additionally, communities will benefit from more climate-friendly homes with great transportation strategies, encouraging new residents to drive less, walk, bike, and take public transit.
There is still time for you to comment on your municipality’s draft Housing Element; some are still releasing their drafts while others are being told their drafts need to include stronger language around housing and parking constraints. Housing Elements represent an unprecedented opportunity to address our housing issues and ensure stability for everyone. Without adequate housing, youth, families, seniors, and everyday people face significant barriers building wealth and maintaining their overall well-being.
Anyone can use GreenTRIP Connect to see how your community can benefit from implementing stronger parking reforms and TDM strategies. If you need support using the tool, or have any questions, contact TransForm Policy Analyst Kendra Ma, at email@example.com.
TransForm is grateful to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative for support in tackling these issues in a way that can solve both housing and transportation challenges.