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February 15, 2024

Joint Release: Colorado Democrats Unveil 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 - Colorado Democrats today introduced 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. 

“Requiring more parking spots than the market demands drives up the cost of construction, makes housing more expensive in Colorado, and puts more and more distance between homes and destinations," said Rep. Stephanie Vigil, D-Colorado Springs. “We have quite literally paved paradise to put up a parking lot. With each new off-street parking spot adding potentially tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a new building, the evidence is overwhelming that eliminating minimum parking mandates will allow for more diverse housing stock, free up space for more transportation choices, and improve air quality. It's time for us to put people over parking, and ensure Coloradans can live, work, and play affordably throughout our great state.”

“Addressing Colorado’s housing crisis requires an all-of-the-above approach - and with parking mandates eating up more and more space and money, it’s long past time we act to eliminate them,” Senator Kevin Priola, D-Henderson, said. “Parking minimums stifle housing development and act as barriers to building the new housing we need to bring down prices and get folks housed. This bill will make it easier to increase Colorado’s housing supply, and encourage practices that will reduce emissions and help us reach our climate goals.”

“The research is clear, the actions we’re taking will keep rents from rising, reduce the cost of building new apartments, homes and condos, and will save people money on housing,” said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver. “There are eight parking spaces for every vehicle on the road, and most municipalities require up to three parking spaces per unit, which can add millions to the cost of building new multifamily housing. This common sense reform empowers consumers to choose the housing options that work best for them instead of continuing to force higher costs on builders, renters and homeowners for parking spaces they don’t need or want.”    

“This year we’re taking a multifaceted approach to combating the housing crisis in Colorado, and removing parking mandates that drive up housing costs is a key part of our agenda,” said Senator Nick Hinrichsen, D-Pueblo. “Studies have shown time and again that mandated parking minimums negatively impact health outcomes and the environment while slowing housing development and raising prices. I look forward to working on this commonsense solution that can improve affordability for the hardworking folks of Pueblo.”

Beginning January 1, 2025, HB24-1304 would prohibit counties or municipalities from establishing or enforcing minimum parking requirements for residential or commercial properties within a metropolitan planning organization.

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 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 habitat 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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