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May 10, 2024

Legislation to Save Coloradans Money on Housing by Eliminating Parking Mandates Becomes Law

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

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Governor Polis today signed into law a bill 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.

"Minimum parking mandates drive up costs by forcing every builder to provide more spaces than the market demands. They can add hundreds of dollars to monthly rents and make many smaller scale developments completely impossible," said Rep. Stephanie Vigil, D-Colorado Springs. “These mandates, which are being challenged all over the country, have created to an abundance of asphalt, a shortage of housing and transportation choices, and higher greenhouse gas emissions. We have quite literally paved paradise to put up a parking lot. Our new law scales back this onerous regulation, allowing builders to right size parking supply based on the context and unique characteristics of every project.”

“Parking mandates drive up housing costs, increase traffic congestion, and make it harder for Colorado to hit its climate goals,” Senator Kevin Priola, D-Henderson, said. “Developers can always choose to include parking, but eliminating minimum requirements will increase the availability of housing, drive down prices, and help ensure more Coloradans have a place to call home.”

“The financial burden that comes with parking minimum requirements gets passed onto hardworking Coloradans through higher housing costs,” said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver. “Each parking space can add tens of thousands of dollars and reduce the number of units that we can build—restricting supply and driving up costs. This law, coupled with the other housing legislation that Colorado Democrats passed this year, will help alleviate our affordability crisis.”

“Parking spots cost tens of thousands of dollars each to build - an unacceptable amount at a time when too many Coloradans are struggling to find housing they can afford,” Senator Nick Hinrichsen, D-Pueblo, said. “We must do more to encourage the construction of new housing in our state, including for Pueblo which has a large amount of land devoted to parking that could be redeveloped as housing and businesses. I am incredibly proud of our new law that will make it easier to do just that while reducing traffic, bolstering economic development, and freeing up valuable space for our communities while enhancing our downtowns.”

HB24-1304 prohibits a county or municipality from enacting or enforcing minimum parking requirements for most multifamily residential properties within a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) that are within a quarter mile of a transit stop or station.

The bill still allows a local government to impose a parking minimum of up to one space per unit on proposed housing developments with more than 20 units or that include any units classified as affordable housing. To impose this mandate, they must show that the parking minimum is required to avoid a substantial negative impact.

HB24-1304 does not allow a county or municipality to lower protections for people with disabilities and does not prevent a local government from enacting or enforcing a maximum parking requirement or requiring a number of spaces for temporary loading purposes.

Lastly, the bill requires the Colorado Department of Transportation and other state agencies to publish technical assistance materials and best practices for optimal parking supply and management policies by the end of 2024.

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. In 2020, each new structured parking space in Denver cost $25,000 each.

Since the city of Minneapolis eliminated residential parking minimums in 2021, rents have only increased one percent, while Denver saw an average increase of nearly five 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.

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