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April 17, 2024

House Advances Vigil, Woodrow 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 today advanced legislation on a preliminary vote 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 multi-family developments.

"Parking lots may look inexpensive to build and maintain, but requiring a minimum number of parking spots per housing development can add hundreds of dollars to housing costs and a tenant’s rental rate," said Rep. Stephanie Vigil, D-Colorado Springs. “Parking minimums prioritize asphalt over community, spreading people away from their place of employment, worship, and recreation. Our bill shifts our focus back to the needs of our community by using available land in a strategic way so we can build more housing, create alternative transportation options, and make it easier for small business owners to be successful.”

“From housing to businesses, the financial burden that comes with parking minimum requirements gets passed onto hardworking Coloradans,” said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver. “Each parking space can cost tens of thousands of dollars and reduces the number of units that we can build, which reduces supply and drives up costs. This bill, in addition to the other housing legislation that Colorado Democrats are passing this year, will help alleviate the impacts of the housing crisis.”

Beginning June 30, 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, the Department of Local Affairs, and the Colorado Energy Office to collaborate in order to develop and publish best practices and technical assistance materials to aid local governments in optimizing parking supply and managing parking. The materials must include strategies for developers to manage the supply and price of parking based on location and land use characteristics. 

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 as a direct result of strict parking minimums. 

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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