Richmond City Council to take up removing parking minimums for new construction

Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 3:04 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2023 at 3:30 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The City of Richmond is trying to turn unused asphalt parking lots into major economic opportunities.

“The requirement of parking is now kind of a little bit in the way of that, especially in the way of affordability. For me, affordability is the key catalyst for why exploring our parking requirements is needed,” said Andreas Addison, Richmond City Council.

A host of proposed revisions in a 59-page document could significantly change how Richmond deals with parking.

Overall, the move would remove what’s called parking minimums. That’s a 1970′s zoning policy about parking requirements for new construction and businesses.

“The biggest thing to simply understand is this, that we are no longer going to restrict development based upon a parking lot. We’re in a parking lot right now that is a sea of asphalt, and that’s bad,” said Mike Jones, Richmond City Council.

Richmond City Council President Mike Jones and others say new projects like affordable housing are currently tied to parking minimums. He says cutting them could mean cheaper rent, home prices and smarter growth.

“So we’re cutting down trees, more trees than necessary to make sure we’re taking care of required parking minimums when essentially the developers have already done the work, and it’s possible that they could go down in pricing if they are able to save some on parking,” said Barry Greene Jr., Partnership for Smarter Growth.

Councilors say the proposed change won’t take away current hourly parking across Richmond or impact residential parking zones. But the city could also eye underused parking garages.

“If we are paying for a parking lot or not having revenue from a parking deck, maybe we shouldn’t have it, or maybe there should be a better use,” said Councilor Addison.

The planning commission will hear the issue on April 17 and then the council could vote on it by the end of the month.