It’s Official: Mexico City Eliminates Mandatory Parking Minimums

Goodbye. Photo: < href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/maelvillafranco/6984829386"> Ismael Villafranco
Goodbye. Photo: Ismael Villafranco

The largest city in North America has done away with one of the biggest hidden subsidies for driving: minimum parking requirements.

Mexico City eliminated requirements that force developers to build a minimum number of parking spaces in each project. The city will instead cap the number of parking spaces allowed in new development, depending on the type and size of the building. Existing parking spaces can also be converted to other uses.

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Mancera signed the new regulations into effect last week.

The policy change applies to every land use and throughout the entire city of 8.8 million residents. It promises to make housing more affordable, reduce traffic, and improve air quality.

“It’s a 180-degree change in the approach toward parking,” said Andrés Sañudo, a local planning consultant who worked with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy to advance the reforms. “This is an incentive to provide more housing near existing transit and also provide a better price for consumers.”

The old rules mandated parking even though only about 30 percent of Mexico City residents own cars and the city has a well-developed subway system.

There are now parking maximums in place instead of minimums. For example, office developments had been required to include at least one parking space per 30 square meters of floor area. Now that is the maximum parking ratio developers can build.

Within the central city, the new rules also require developers to pay a fee if they build more than 50 percent of the maximum parking allowed. Sañudo had originally hoped to institute these fees across a larger area, but, he says, “It’s still an enormous step in the right direction.”

Revenues from the parking fee will be used to improve transit and subsidize housing.

The new rules do require one type of parking: New buildings will have to include space for bicycles.

Mexico City’s parking policy is now the most progressive in Latin America. Sañudo hopes it will be expanded to all of Mexico and also inspire other Spanish-speaking cities throughout the western hemisphere.

American cities have a lot of catching up to do too. While several have been scaling back their parking requirements in recent years, only Buffalo has eliminated them citywide.

  • AnoNYC

    Great to hear. NYC, the second largest city in NA, could learn something.

  • The maximun figure is as arbitrary as the minimum was. There is no scientifically sustainable figure for how many parking spaces to provide. The best way is to apply a heavy anual tax on each and every parking space available, and let the market decide, how many, if still too many spaces are provided rise the levy, juust as Shoupe advises for on street parking management

  • Southeasterner

    “The new rules do require one type of parking: New buildings will have to include space for bicycles.”

    You could make the argument that with ECOBICI Bike share in Mexico City there is less of a need for mandatory bike parking.

    Even FoxNews has taken notice (back in 2011…it has grown exponentially since) – http://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/2011/07/05/bike-sharing-flourishes-in-all-places-mexico-city.html

  • Jemilah Magnusson

    This is exactly the argument for parking maximums. The entire point is that this policy will allow developers to let the market decide. Parking MINIMUMS, on the other hand, mandate much more parking than anyone actually wants. Hopefully more US cities will follow Mexico City’s lead.

  • Nick A. Zukin

    If you add a tax, you’re not letting the market decide. Why not get rid of both the parking maximums and minimums? It’s clearly more expensive to add parking. There is a natural disincentive.

  • Jonathan Krall

    Are you a bikeshare user? When discussing bikeshare, it is important to realize that owning a bikeshare subscription is very different from owning a bike. This is especially true in a city with a decent transit system. When used with transit, bikeshare is like a bus that you never have to wait for. It’s a great replacement for the shortest leg of a multi-leg transit trip.

  • Once the market actually pays for our streets and the externalities, then it would make sense for it to “decide.”

  • Well, the market sorta does…through taxes.

    That said, a better solution though would be privatization of roads as well because then the true cost would be more exposed and borne more closely by those who use and benefit from them.

    Either way, arbitrary minimums, maximums or taxes on parking spaces is certainly not “letting the market work”.

  • But parking maximums may disallow developers from providing the number of spaces wanted or needed. Maximums and minimums are both bad ideas.

  • Jemilah Magnusson

    Certainly removing both would be better than the current situation in most US cities. However, perception of parking need and actual parking need are very different things, and maximums are intended to give a more realistic picture of need. If you just ask people if they want more parking, they will always say yes, no matter how much already exists.

  • Erik Mar

    Regardless of what parking policy at the level of individual buildings does or doesn’t do, a free market won’t exist until subsidies are removed from all of the other areas which tacitly or explicitly encourage car and other private motorized vehicle use. That list would include: the fossil fuel exploration, extraction, processing, and delivery processes; road and expressway design, development, construction, and maintenance; municipal willingness to extend building services and utilities to subdivisions that are almost exclusively served by private automobile; and last but not least, the US tax system which provides mortgage tax deductions for the largely car-dependent form of development known as the single family home.