Legislation primed for introduction on the first day of the 2024 Minnesota legislative session is broader than any existing state requirement regarding the local preemption of parking requirements.
On Jan. 23, Sen. Omar Fateh (DFL-Minneapolis) held a press conference to promote his “People Over Parking Act,” which he intends to introduce this legislative session. The proposed bill would prohibit cities from imposing minimum parking requirements that specify the number of off-street parking spaces needed for all residential, commercial, or industrial properties within its jurisdiction except for disability parking spaces.
Advocating for continued local control
The League is committed to preserving local authority to make decisions around parking at the local level. While some cities, including Minneapolis and Saint Paul, have eliminated parking minimums, those decisions were made at the local level with community input. In response to a recent Star Tribune editorial in which the Editorial Board came out in favor of the bill, League President Jenny Max wrote a letter to the editor, which identified several key points as to why the bill is concerning for the League and its members. Those points include:
- Far-reaching preemption of cities to ensure minimum parking availability without regard to transit availability or walkability does not make sense for every city in our state.
- Removing city authority to ensure parking availability and ceding that authority to developers who are primarily concerned about parking for their individual projects removes a city’s ability to consider parking and transit availability within the entire city when considering a project.
- The bill sets the stage for possible underbuilding of parking and subsequent parking spillover into surrounding streets that are not designed to accommodate dense traffic or parking.
- Many cities already provide flexibility on parking requirements for certain types of properties including affordable housing and small businesses.
Proponents of the bill — including Housing First Minnesota, Sierra Club, SEIU, Move Minnesota, Strong Towns, MN350, and the Parking Reform Network — argue that minimum parking requirements require developers to build more parking spaces than needed, which they claim increases the cost of housing, reduces the ability for greater density, and impedes the establishment of small businesses. Proponents also argue that the bill would still allow developers to build the parking that they deem appropriate for their development.
Other states including California and Oregon have passed parking preemption legislation, but the preemption is limited to areas with a nexus to public transit. If adopted in Minnesota, the People Over Parking Act would be the broadest preemption of local authority regarding parking in the country.
As has long been one of the League’s core tenets, we will continue to advocate for local control when it comes to local decisions regarding parking. We encourage city leaders to reach out to their legislators if they have concerns regarding this bill.