With limited space and growing demand for development, many cities are torn between making space for more parking spaces or more housing. In Cambridge, City Council members want to go with more housing.
A proposal backed by many local representatives would end minimum parking requirements for new residential developments, according to a Boston Globe report, and instead allow developers to decide if parking is necessary. The hope is that less parking would lower costs for developers, incentivize more units to be built, and ultimately, lower rents.
“We are a city with a very finite amount of space, and land is our most valuable asset,” said Burhan Azeem, the city councilor who proposed the policy told the Globe. “An obscene amount of that land is dedicated to parking, and that means that it’s harder and more expensive to build housing.”
While the City Council appears eager to make this change happen, members of the city’s Planning Board and some residents are less than enthusiastic. Critics argue that parking spots are already hard to come by, and building more units and less parking will only exacerbate the problem.
“Suddenly all the neighbors who are already having a hard time parking their cars, well there’s going to be more cars [to contend with],” Planning Board member Steven Cohen said at a meeting last month. “Real people, they’re going to be compromised by this. Real people need vehicles.”
It’s a debate that’s also playing out across the river in Boston, where Mayor Michelle Wu has made changes to increase housing and improve public transportation at the expense of parking. In 2021, her administration eliminated off-street parking minimums for affordable housing developments. More recently, she announced that the city would keep some street changes implemented during the Orange Line shutdown in place which limits parking to make room for priority bus lanes and pop-up bike lanes.
Do you think this proposal to have less parking, but more housing is a good trade-off? Should Cambridge move forward with this plan or are critics right to be concerned about fewer parking options? Share your thoughts with Boston.com by filling out the survey below or e-mailing us at [email protected] and we may feature your response in a future article or on our social media channels.