Tag: parking minimum

Illinois might join the country’s league of states adopting land use reforms

Illinois House Representative Kam Buckner (26th district) has introduced three bills that would adopt land use reforms across all or a lot of the state. This is a trend happening across the United States to address twin crises of low housing construction and limited affordable housing caused in large part by individual municipalities restricting new housing.

I’ve summarized the three proposed bills below. If you would like to help get these adopted, join the Urban Environmentalists of Illinois.

Allowing accessory dwelling units

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are apartments and small backyard houses that are built to provide on-site housing for family members, or generate additional income. They are usually allowed by amending zoning codes to add design parameters that treat them differently than apartments, detached, or attached houses and exempt them from typical density limitations inherent in nearly all zoning codes.

Buckner filed HB4213 in November 2023, which would disallow any unit of local government in Illinois from prohibiting ADUs, which most governments in Illinois do through various zoning rules (the main one being that a residentially-zoned parcel is only allowed to have a single building).

A bill like this has already been adopted in California, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire (at a minimum).

Coach houses are one type of small backyard house, common in Chicago. This one in Lakeview was built in 2023.

Lifting parking mandates

Buckner submitted HB4638 in January 2024 to get local governments out of the business of forcing a minimum number of car parking spaces at developments near transit, which are currently established without any rationale. You might say the amount of space cities require businesses and apartment buildings to provide is based on vibes.

My letter to the editor describing the benefits of not requiring so much parking everywhere was published in The Daily Line this month.

There are so many better things we can do for a community than dedicating land for car parking.

Allowing more than one home per lot

Most municipal zoning codes in Illinois have a zoning district called something like “R1” that allows one detached house on a lot, often setting a very large minimum lot size that must be assembled before construction can begin. Municipal leaders then apply R1 broadly within their municipalities’ boundaries, effectively banning condos, townhouses, row houses, and apartments – the most affordable kinds of homes to buy and rent.

Buckner introduced HB4795 in February 2024; it would apply to the state’s eight largest cities and require them to allow at least a “duplex” (two-unit house) on every parcel that allows a detached single-family house.

Naperville would be one of the covered municipalities; the city allows two-family dwellings in R2 zoning districts and slightly more homes per lot in the higher-number R zoning districts. Their B1 neighborhood shopping district also allows multi-family housing.

My letter to the editor in support of this bill was published in the Chicago Sun-Times on February 26, 2024.

But the Naperville zoning map shows how prevalent R1 and its friends the “E” estate districts are: the vast majority of the city is zoned to allow only single detached houses.

Letter to the editor: Illinois cities shouldn’t have the ability to impose parking mandates

My letter to the editor was published as guest commentary in The Daily Line

State Rep. Kam Buckner’s bill to stop cities from mandating specific numbers of off-street car parking at homes and businesses in transit-served areas should be celebrated. These mandates increase the cost of housing, take up land that could be used for just about anything else (like, more housing), and, because of how they facilitate more driving and require building more curb cuts than is truly necessary, make it harder to walk, bike, or ride the bus to run errands.

A massive parking garage at the new Malcolm X College on the Near West Side of Chicago.

I rent my home and I like the idea that there are only enough car parking spaces in the building for people who really need to have a car close by and are willing to pay for it. This means that the cost of providing parking for everyone in the building is not added onto my rent. 

Currently, every municipality in Illinois with a zoning code has a different idea of how many car parking spaces are required at bars, restaurants, townhouses, bowling alleys, and cemeteries. City planners don’t have the training or expertise to project the demand for parking. In other words, they don’t know more than home builders and businesses do about how many parking spaces each project needs.

In the place of mandates, cities should let home builders and businesses choose how much parking they believe they need to serve their tenants, employees, and customers.

By prioritizing car ownership and usage, parking mandates perpetuate reliance on fossil fuels and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, removing such requirements can incentivize the use of public transportation, cycling, and walking, consequently reducing traffic congestion and air pollution in our cities.

Without parking mandates near transit service, cities will be freer to allocate land in ways that support sustainable transportation, including making room for more housing to be located near transit and in walking distance to essential shops and services.

I look forward to debating the specifics of Buckner’s bill and getting it passed this year. 

-Steven Vance, Chicago, urban planner

[P.S. Buckner has another bill, HB4795, to prevent Illinois’s eight largest cities from having residential zoning districts that disallow multiple units.]

Car parking really is the root of all of Chicago’s transportation ills

Two pools! Read more about the Maryville Hospital site proposal from JDL Development.

Parking has a greater effect on new traffic impacts in a dense neighborhood, more than bike lanes, more than road diets, and more than the number of people who live or will move there.

Yet we require so gosh darn much of it in Chicago! A developer who proposed a 25-story residential tower in Uptown, one block from the lakefront, essentially said that parking is a waste. He’s already proposing the lowest without a special ordinance that favors (singles out) his development.

 

I think that Streetsblog Chicago, where I work, could have a part-time writer dedicated to new property developments and parking issues. But for now it’ll stay my beat!

You can have your free parking when I get my free cappuccino

Kudos to this Chicago developer and their architect for blending the parking garage into the building. I still dislike that it’s visibly a parking garage. 

My friend Payton Chung has some very dry urban planner humor. Which I absolutely love. He wrote about parking minimums in Washington, D.C., and the current proposed zoning change that would reduce them (and included a reference to Chicago’s parking “podiums”). The best part is below:

Drivers’ inability to find free parking spaces outside their offices is no more deserving of a public policy response than my inability to find a free cappuccino waiting outside my office.

Free parking makes the world go round, doesn’t it.