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Why Birmingham Removed Parking Space Minimums Citywide and What It Means

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The City of Birmingham on Tuesday passed a landmark parking reform that makes it the first major city in the Deep South to remove parking space minimums citywide. (Adobe Stock)

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The City of Birmingham on Tuesday passed a landmark parking reform that makes it the first major city in the Deep South to remove parking space minimums citywide. Under the Right Size Parking Initiative, new businesses are no longer locked into having to provide a fixed number of parking spaces. Birmingham joins a nationwide movement of over 70 other cities to have done so.

“Current parking standards required an overabundance of parking spaces and this has had detrimental effects on our City and its residents,” said Mayor Randall L. Woodfin. “Birmingham is now on track to be more walkable, bikeable, and transit accessible. This means a better city for all of us.”

Research shows that removing parking mandates lowers the cost of housing production and encourages the development of more affordable and workforce housing for residents. Reducing the amount of paved spaces also helps to reduce its heating effects on the environment and its contribution to flooding issues.

“Significant portions of our population live day to day without reliable access to an automobile, yet the previous zoning requirements prioritized allocating land for storing privately owned automobiles and growing in a suburban fashion,” said Katrina Thomas, director of the Department of Planning, Engineering and Permits.

“With the passage of this initiative, the City is primed to establish more affordable housing, infill development, and create a safer built environment for all of its residents.”

This initiative does not mean that parking spaces will be totally eliminated for new businesses. This simply gives businesses flexibility in their approach to supporting their customer’s needs. And, the American Disability Act requirements for parking will remain the same.

Since last year, the city has hosted a series of information sessions, educating the public about the new initiative. The Department of Planning, Engineering and Permits is working closely with the Birmingham Department of Transportation to ensure that enforcement is addressed as part of this effort.

“We realize the mandates were well intentioned but that it came at a high cost to businesses. This is putting people first and not cars,” said Hunter Garrison, senior planner for PEP, and who drafted the amendment.