Minus Minimums

Development Response to the Removal of Minimum Parking Requirements in Buffalo (NY)

Journal of the American Planning Association cover.

Eliminating parking minimums can reduce unnecessary parking supply and encourage development constrained by excessive minimum requirements. Land use, location, and transportation demand initiatives affect the quantity of off-street parking supplied in response to market conditions. Our findings suggest mixed-use developers are likely to take advantage of the ability to provide less parking in highly accessible locations. Though many developers quickly pivot to the newfound possibilities of providing fewer parking spaces, others continue to meet earlier requirements. Cities of all types stand to benefit from undoing constraining parking policies of the past and allowing developers to transform parking lots to “higher uses.”

Cities today face considerable land use, environmental, and economic challenges resulting from policies prioritizing automobiles and requiring ample off-street parking. In an effort to influence travel behavior and reduce parking supply, Buffalo (NY) adopted the Green Code in 2017. This zoning code reform repealed minimum parking requirements citywide and provided a “natural experiment” to investigate effects of parking deregulation among 36 major developments in its first 2 years. Our research produced two key findings. First, 47% of major developments included fewer parking spaces than previously permissible, suggesting earlier minimum parking requirements may have been excessive. Second, mixed-use developments introduced 53% fewer parking spaces than would have been required by earlier minimum requirements as developers readily took advantage of the newfound possibility to include less off-street parking. Aggregate parking spaces among single-use projects exceeded the earlier minimum requirements, suggesting developers of such projects were less motivated to deviate from accepted practices in determining the parking supply for urban development.


Daniel Baldwin Hess, professor and chair in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning
University at Buffalo

Jeffrey Rehler, adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning
University at Buffalo


Journal of the American Planning Association 

Date Published

March 2021