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March 5, 2024

Committee Passes Bill to Reduce the Cost of Housing

Legislation puts ‘people over parking’ to lower the cost of building new homes, increase Colorado’s housing supply, and reduce harmful air pollution

DENVER, CO - The House Transportation, Housing & Local Government Committee today passed legislation to make housing in Colorado more affordable and reduce traffic congestion by eliminating parking mandates that drive up the cost of building new housing, especially multifamily developments. HB24-1304 passed by a vote of 8-3.

"Minimum parking requirements increase housing costs, travel distances, and greenhouse gas emissions," said Rep. Stephanie Vigil, D-Colorado Springs. “These requirements have had the unintended consequence of producing vast surpluses of asphalt and limited housing and transportation choices. Forcing builders to construct a minimum number of parking spaces makes many beneficial infill projects unfeasible and contributes to low-density sprawl. This legislation will also put the state to work developing data sets and tools, which will enable developments to right-size parking supply and manage demand in a market-responsive way."

“Mandatory parking minimums drive up the cost of housing and reduce the number of units we can build, exacerbating our affordability crisis,” said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver. “Artificial parking minimums render denser development economically infeasible, contributing to single-family sprawl. Coloradans are relying on us to tackle the housing crisis, and this bill is one of many approaches that Colorado Democrats are taking this session to lower costs.”

Beginning January 1, 2025, HB24-1304 would prohibit counties or municipalities from establishing or enforcing minimum parking requirements within a metropolitan planning organization (MPO). The bill would also direct the Colorado Department of Transportation to conduct a study and compile a report on parking space utilization, needs and best practices within MPOs to better inform parking needs for future development.

Parking minimums increase home prices and rents by requiring developers to use valuable space for cars that may not be fully utilized and could instead be dedicated to more housing units. With new structured parking spaces costing $25,000 each in the Denver Metro Area in 2020, developers are disincentivized from building new residential projects or must reduce the number of units that are developed. 

Since the city of Minneapolis eliminated residential parking minimums in 2021, rents have only increased 1 percent, while Denver saw an average increase of nearly 5 percent in just the last two years. Research attributes the significant expansion of the housing supply in Minneapolis to the elimination of parking minimums. 

The oversupply of parking is also directly linked to higher vehicle miles traveled. The transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in Colorado, with cars contributing nearly 60 percent of the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified Denver and the Northern Front Range as having unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone, which can lead to negative health impacts like asthma and bronchitis, especially for vulnerable Coloradans. Additionally, replacing wildlife habitats to build massive surface lots for parking harms the environment by increasing soil and water pollution, flooding, and the heat island effect.

The bill does not impact parking spaces required for people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

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