Jonathan Curth: Ending Parking Minimums and Seeing the Results

A few weeks ago, we announced a series of five core campaigns we’re going to be focusing on over the next few years at Strong Towns, including ending highway expansion, encouraging transparent local accounting, advocating for safe and productive streets, legalizing incremental housing development, and ending parking minimums. None of these are new issues for us, but we’ll be placing a special focus on them and providing a ton of resources and action steps you all can take in your cities to make these Strong Towns visions a reality.

Today’s guest, Jonathan Curth, is here to talk about that last campaign issue: ending parking minimums. He’s the development services director for the city of Fayetteville, Arkansas—one of the first U.S. cities to eliminate commercial parking minimums. These are laws that mandate the amount of parking spaces a business needs to provide. They’re on the books in many U.S. cities and they reach a point of absurdity—an overreach of government that harms local businesses, small-scale developers, home owners, and renters. Luckily, a growing movement of cities is smashing these outdated laws, and you can see the full list on our map of cities that have ended parking minimums.

Jonathan talks a lot more about why these regulations are a problem and why Fayetteville decided to put an end to them, not only because they were harming business opportunities, but also because they were leaving important historic buildings downtown vacant or at risk of destruction, simply because those places were built before cars or parking minimums were a thing. Jonathan also talks about the slow, but important, results that have come about since minimums were eliminated in Fayetteville, including new restaurants opening, vacant lots getting filled, and city staff having a much quicker process to approve new permits for developments and business start-ups.

At the end of the day, eliminating parking minimum requirements is about getting rid of a law that’s unnecessary. Let the market, business owners, and property owners decide what parking is needed, otherwise you’ll end up with empty lots instead of productive places.

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