No More Parking? Boston Officials Push New Apartment Buildings to Stop Making Massive Lots

Anyone who’s driven a car in Boston knows the frustration of finding a parking spot – but is that intentional?

According to a recent article by Tim Logan from the Boston Globe, the city is actually encouraging less space for cars.  As Boston’s population expands and new homes and apartment buildings are going up, city officials are pushing construction companies to build less parking space.

Why?  The city hopes it’ll help Boston work towards a future that is less reliant on automobiles.  It’s also supposed to help limit surging construction costs that drive up rent in new buildings.

These days, it seems like many young renters aren’t even bothering to bring cars to the city, especially in Boston.  According to data from the Boston Planning & Developing Agency (BPDA), 30 of the 76 residential buildings they approved last year included fewer than one parking space per unit.  That number is expected to increase.

Developers are looking to build in Brighton and Dorchester, specifically near the MBTA stops, in order to tap into that younger market.  Some suggest that ridesharing apps like Uber, Lyft, and Zipcar have left less of a need for a personal car, contributing to the lower demand for parking.  If this is true, why dedicate space to parking lots that’ll sit half empty?

In theory, it seems like a nice idea – but locals are worried that without on-site parking, apartment renters will take up those precious, limited (not to mention free) spots on their neighborhood streets. Without spots, things are bound to get messy – packed streets means packed T cars, making it harder to get anywhere without getting stuck in a major back-up.

South Boston is no stranger to parking wars, and they’ve responded to the worries of the locals: new zoning rules will increase off-street requirements throughout the area.  Some areas have even sought to expand residential parking zones, and are asking that city-owned lots be created to alleviate the street parking situation.  There’s even a group of developers preventing tenants from applying for residental parking in exchange for entry into a smaller garage.

City Council hearings have been a hub for conversation on the topic, where some councilors are suspicious that less parking will make the situation any better.  Regardless of ridesharing apps and carpooling, people are still going to end up owning, driving, and parking cars.  The BPDA disagrees –  they’re confident that the amount of space left for cars will continue to dwindle.  Only time will tell.

For more information, you can read Tim Logan’s article here.


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