As Washington, D.C. continues to attract development, leading the new completions this year amongst the nation’s major metros, the constant problem that developers are seeing is meeting the parking demand–or lack thereof.
“If you look around D.C., there’s no shortage of luxury housing being built,” says Harriet Tregoning, director at the office of planning in Washington, D.C. But Tregoning adds that there’s especially no shortage of empty parking spots.
The city is urgently carving out a comprehensive plan to provide the capacity for a growing renter population by pushing density near transit, and doing a complete rewrite of their zoning requirements. But as it’s quick to make reforms, Tregoning admits that the office regularly rejects projects with drawn out parking plans. She’s actively pushed for the elimination of parking requirements in transit zones, as three quarters of the city is now served by transit.
Tregoning’s biggest push for this stems from household rates of car ownership, which developers need to play close attention to–in all markets.
“If car ownership is 40 percent in your market, why would you want to build one to one [parking]?” she says. “You end up overbuilding.”
It’s an unrecoverable asset that adds loads to the cost of housing, and there shouldn’t be an expectation that every unit will have a space. It also weighs down the cost of affordability for renters.
The Washington, D.C.-based Urban Land Institute has commissioned studies to look at combined housing and transportation costs, which should be no more than 50 percent in order for residents to live affordably. With an income gap rising in the city, more renters are giving up cars to meet the affordability margin.
“Get multifamily production in those locations [near transit] as soon as possible,” Tregoning says, adding that more developers need to push to shift subsidy financing to permanent affordability anywhere there's a transit investment. “Preserve affordability. We’re fortunate to be in position where there’s revenue growth to allocate, but the city is changing rapidly.”