Be Jealous of São Paulo’s Precedent-Setting New Parking Policy

São Paulo has moved to entirely eliminate minimum parking requirements. Photo: ITDP
São Paulo has moved to entirely eliminate minimum parking requirements. Photo: Flickr, Emerson Alecrim

It may not be much consolation after yesterday’s World Cup defeat to Germany, but Brazil should feel at least a twinge of national pride over the groundbreaking new parking policies its largest city has adopted.

Late last month, leaders in Sao Paulo approved a strategic master plan that will go a long way toward making the city more walkable and transit-oriented. The plan includes what may be the most progressive parking policy of any city in the developing world and would vault Sao Paulo well ahead of any U.S. city.

The plan eliminates minimum parking requirements citywide and imposes parking maximums — one space per residence — along transit corridors. Getting rid of parking minimums is expected to reduce traffic and make housing more affordable.

Sao Paulo is the first “megacity in the developing world” to entirely eliminate parking minimums, according to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Many major U.S. cities have dropped parking minimums in their downtown areas, but so far none has applied this smart policy reform citywide.

“By reducing parking around transit corridors, São Paulo will start reducing traffic, improving street life, and encouraging the use of public transit,” writes ITDP. “Though parking minimums have long fallen out of favor in many American and European cities, São Paulo is leading the way for cities in developing countries to pass major parking reform, making the city more transit and pedestrian friendly.”

  • Alon Levy

    Obvious question: how does it relate to the recent police violence against squatters? For example, is this part of an effort to clear squats in desirable areas? Or is this unrelated to the protests?

  • AnoNYC

    NYC should have done this long ago.

  • Jemilah Magnusson

    Actually they did, but only in the central business district, which is Manhattan below 86th street in this case.

  • Guest

    Its possible that some other aspects of the master plan were related to this, but no, not the parking policy.

  • AnoNYC

    I know, but such a small geographical area of the city. Our transit corridors especially should have gotten this treatment.

  • Pelle

    Worldwide progress on parking policy awaiting. Stockholm also moves forward. http://www.innpark.se/eng/eng-index.php

  • ohsweetnothing

    Honest-to-goodness question. Is Brazil still considered part of the “developing world”?

  • Mcass777

    Yes it is

  • voltairesmistress

    Having recently visited Sao Paulo on business, I can say it was chaotic, traffic congested, and dangerous. Pedestrians are often robbed by thieves or menaced by car drivers. Car occupants are robbed easily too, because cars routinely are at a standstill. One cannot wander and enjoy the city. Bicycling is impossibe in such car-choked streets, except for a few, recreational bike paths aroung a lovely park. Kidnappings abound. Except for the subway, transit is just as stuck in traffic. Commutes routinely take 2+ hours. Last week a highway overpass, hastily constructed but not finished in time for the World Cup, collapsed. Corruption abounds. The city is a nightmare, even as its people are wonderful at making the best of a bad situation. This is a developing world city of many millions without adequate transit. If all cities looked and felt like this, we would say the city was doomed as a human aggregation. So parking is getting a tweak in Sao Paolo? I say, so what.

  • Justin

    That looks like a beautifully designed piece of public space for the people. I just wish that we had more of this like where I live in San Francisco

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