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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Parking Requirements and Housing Affordability: A Case Study of San Francisco


Residential parking requirements specify the number of parking spaces that must be provided when new residential units are built. This paper examines the way such parking requirements influence housing affordability. The provision of parking spaces requires land, building materials and equipment which increase the price of housing. On the other hand, off-street parking requirements are said to be needed to prevent streets overcrowded with parked cars. In a case study of six neighborhoods in the City of San Francisco, this study investigated the influence on housing affordability of code-required parking. A hedonic model was fit to data describing housing and neighborhood characteristics in order to statistically explain the sales price of housing units that changed hands in those neighborhoods in 1996. The analysis revealed that single family houses and condominiums were more than ten percent more costly if they included off-street parking than if they did not. Based on the selling prices and the distribution of incomes of San Francisco residents, it was estimated that tens of thousands of additional households could qualify for home mortgages for units without off-street parking if those units could legally be provided under zoning and subdivision ordinances. The policy implications of this finding include the possible consideration of alternative forms of regulation regarding the provision of off-street parking in residential projects.

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