Mexico City May Abolish Its Parking Minimums

Mexico City will use the powerful lever of parking policy to tackle its congestion problem. Photo:  CarlosVanVegas/Flickr
Mexico City will use the powerful lever of parking policy to tackle its congestion problem. Photo: CarlosVanVegas/Flickr

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Mancera is pursuing a sweeping overhaul of the city’s parking policy that’s expected to do away with minimum parking requirements and generate revenue for transit and affordable housing. If enacted, the reforms could set an important precedent for cities in North and South America.

Currently, Mexico City’s building code tips the scales toward driving with strict parking minimums throughout the city for both housing and commercial development, even though cars only account for about 30 percent of all trips. By reforming the parking requirements, Mancera aims to lower construction costs, make housing more affordable, and subsidize transit through a fee on parking that does get built.

In office buildings, for instance, the city requires one parking spot for every 30 square meters of leasable space. Once you factor in space for ramps and access lanes, that means about 40 percent of the square footage in an office development must be devoted to parking, said Andrés Sañudo, a Mexico City-based consultant who’s been working with the non-profit Institute for Transportation and Development Policy to help the city reform its parking policy.

In a recent white paper produced at the city’s request, ITDP recommended eliminating minimum parking requirements and replacing them with maximums. The parking caps would be lower in the central areas of the city. And the more parking developers do build, the larger the amount they would have to pay into a special fund for transit, sidewalk improvements, and subsidized housing.

The rules would apply to new developments, while allowing existing buildings to repurpose parking spaces.

An analysis by ITDP found developers in Mexico City rarely build more parking than the minimums require — a strong indication that the law is inflating the parking supply.

“Most of the developers are supporting this,” said Sañudo. “They know what effect it will have on the excel spreadsheets of their project.”

In Mexico City, only about 30 percent of transportation is done by car. But the city imposes strict parking minimums. Graph: ITDP
Mexico City mandates the construction of more parking than the average resident will ever use. Graph: ITDP

At an event at the end of February, Mancera said he expected new parking regulations to be unveiled in a matter of weeks. The reforms have yet to be finalized, but Sañudo believes many of the ITDP recommendations will be adopted.

“The proposal that they probably will publish is based on what we gave them,” he said.

And that would bring Mexico City’s building code in line with goals like reducing traffic and increasing affordability. “It will help people to start living closer to their economical activities, to their daily activities, their work, their entertainment,” said Sañudo. “This will translate into a lower dependency on car use.”

It would also make Mexico City’s parking regulations among the most progressive in the Western Hemisphere and could inspire reforms throughout Latin America, said Sañudo.

  • Kevin Love

    It is also the stated goal of the Province of Ontario, which includes the city of Toronto, to abolish minimum car parking requirements throughout the province. The province has the authority to override municipal bylaws, and has stated that this authority will be exercised to overrule all municipal bylaws requiring any form of car parking.

    Toronto and other cities have bylaws that require bicycle parking to be included into any new development. Those bylaws will remain in place.

    For details, see the government’s official website at:

    https://www.ontario.ca/page/climate-change-action-plan#section-6

    1.4 Eliminate minimum parking requirements

    Minimum parking requirements would be eliminated over the next five years for municipal zoning bylaws, especially in transit corridors and other high-density, highly walkable communities. Minimum parking requirements are a barrier to creating complete, compact and mixed-use communities. Instead, bylaws will encourage bike lanes, larger sidewalks, and enhanced tree canopies

  • richardgrabman

    We’re in something of a pickel here in Mexico City. While we need to cut automobile traffic here in the Capital (which is home to one in every five Mexicans), the federal government is pushing auto sales. We are a major producer of autos, and with the threat of retaliation by the United States, would have to turn to more domestic sales in a market that alredy clogs our streets.

    Whether the local government can stay ahead of the race to build more public transit and alternative transit ahead of the demand for auto transport is an open question. Perhaps eliminating or limiting parking spaces is one answer, but only a partial one.

  • Ray

    They need to do this and start congestion-pricing right away, it would do wonders to their pollution issues.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Seattle Policy Honchos Look to Parking Reform to Make Housing Affordable

|
Buried under headlines about Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s plans to battle “economic apartheid” are little-noticed reforms that would reduce or do away with parking quotas that inflate the cost of housing. Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) Committee released its recommendations yesterday. Noting that about “65 percent of Seattle’s land — not just its residential […]

Fun Facts About the Sad State of American Parking Policy

|
Surface parking stretches halfway to the horizon in the heart of downtown Wichita. (Photo: Wichita Walkshop via Flickr.) If you haven’t checked out the ITDP parking report we covered yesterday, it’s a highly readable piece of research, walking you through parking policy’s checkered past and potentially brighter future. In addition to describing six cases of […]

Mixed Messages: Parking Requirements at Bars

|
If the government catches you drinking and driving, you will be arrested, fined and possibly jailed. And rightly so. Drunk driving kills almost 11,000 people annually in the United States, more than the number of U.S. soldiers killed in our multiple wars over the past decade. On the other hand, government agencies are rolling out […]

More Affordable Housing, Fewer Driveways

|
As Minneapolis considers dropping parking minimums for residential developments near transit, Seattle may soon be talking about doing away with driveways for single-family houses. Erica C. Barnett at Seattle Transit Blog writes that Mayor Ed Murray’s committee on affordable housing and urban livability has drafted a proposal to replace single-family zoning with a new designation that would […]