To Lower Housing Production Costs, Put People Before Parking

“There is a real solution: end the off-street parking requirements mandated by archaic zoning laws enacted when gas was cheap and full of lead, elevated trains were being torn down, and flying cars were the future. With climate change now posing an existential threat, it is time to move on.”

Adi Talwar

Supporters of off-street parking requirements were about the impact it would have on street parking.

Anyone who has recently looked for a New York City apartment knows how high the rent is. In fact, an affordable home is increasingly out of reach for most New Yorkers: according to the city’s most recent Housing and Vacancy Survey, the median renter household makes $50,000 a year, less than half of what they should earn in order to afford the typical available apartment, which has a median rent of $2,750.

With the New York metro area facing a housing shortage of 342,000 units, we need to start asking ourselves how we can close that gap. One answer is to lower the cost to build new apartments in the five boroughs. A 750-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment costs an eye-watering $400,000 to build, not including land costs.

That is unacceptable, but there is a real solution: end the off-street parking requirements mandated by archaic zoning laws enacted when gas was cheap and full of lead, elevated trains were being torn down, and flying cars were the future. With climate change now posing an existential threat, it is time to move on.

Unfortunately, New York’s zoning code is still stuck in the ‘60s, and it is more expensive to build housing than it should be. In a typical zoning district (R6), a new development must provide off-street parking spots for 70 percent of its apartments. So, a new building with 100 apartments would have to include 70 garage spots costing $120,000 per spot and adding $84,000 to the cost of every unit.