So… will anyone actually buy a unit without a parking space?

Tim doesn't just plan parking, he was also a freelance cartoonist.
Tim doesn't just plan less parking, he was also a freelance cartoonist.

Over the last year or so Karen and I talked on and off about how we want to live when we are reaching our 70’s. Do we still want to live in the inner suburbs in a house with a garden and be car dependent at times? Do we want to move into a condo closer to LRT and use shared bike and car systems? When you are not adding much to your income anymore at that age, a car is probably the worst to own with its cost of at least $7000 annually.

Does everyone need parking?

We’d probably choose for a place where car cost is not factored in (parking garages need maintenance too). With an aging population (read: fit baby boomers on bikes), I would have thought that developers do their market research to check what people want. But reading Tim’s article below, it doesn’t appear as sophisticated as I had assumed. They have never called me, but Karen and I can’t be the only ones thinking along those lines.

There is hope though: Now North America appears to finally leaving the era of faux chic colonial trim baseboard behind, perhaps mandated parking spots regulations are next? Read Tim Moerman’s post that that I am posting with his permission. Tim Moerman is a planner at the City of Ottawa. He has been writing some interesting posts on parking and urban development on LinkedIn. That he has a Dutch last name is a coincidence; we have never met.

Here is Tim’s post

Start of Tim’s post

Last year the City of Ottawa passed sweeping changes to the downtown parking regime, including completely eliminating the zoning requirement for minimum parking for most inner urban development.

It was a big win and a fundamental change in our attitudes and assumptions about how to regulate development. But part of me wondered if it would make any difference. Would the industry take the opportunity to build and market to the car-free households we hoped would locate there? Would people buy units that didn’t come with a parking space?

A couple of weeks ago I got this email from a local condo developer:

“If you recall we started a new condo project, around the time of the passing of your parking by law, that was designed to have zero parking. I wanted to give you an update on that project as it may be relevant or useful to you. There were also a few surprises you may find interesting.

First off we will sell out 100% on day one. That’s huge considering it’s a dead condo market. Parking has only been a minor issue as a result of proximity to transit and alternate parking options in the area. The market has clearly spoken and demand is in line with your new regulations.

Most surprisingly however, even though we designed the building to be exclusively small 1 bed units, we’ve had a ton of demand from mature buyers and older couples that wanted 1000sf units … and they are buying these, again, with zero parking. Half the building is now comprised of these units. I can’t tell you what a tidal shift that represents in buyer purchasing needs.”

If you work in planning, you know you spend some dark days wondering whether your efforts are going to amount to anything. But today isn’t one of ’em!

End of Tim’s post


I find it surprising that the developer is so surprised.

NB: Tim also drew the cartoons in this video about the City of Ottawa’s Review of Minimum Parking Standards. The video was a big hit.

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