Metro Cities: Mexico City's one-word fix for congestion
By changing one word in the city's parking policies, the largest city in North America has enacted one of the most progressive city-building tactics seen on the continent.
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Earlier this month, Mexico City mayor Miguel Mancera led his city’s charge to change the rules for parking spaces and as a result flipped the script on how North America’s largest city will grow. Where developers were once required to include a minimum amount of parking, there is now a maximum in place. Go over your allowed number of spaces and you pay a fee to fund urban living.
MINIMUM: The old rules required developers to include one parking spot per 30 square metres of office space and similar rules for condos and shopping centres. This in a city where less than a third of residents own cars and there is a large subway system. A 2014 report showed parking was the fastest-growing land use in Mexico City.
MAXIMUM: Under the new rules, if a development in Mexico City’s downtown core goes more than 50 per cent above a maximum amount of parking spaces, the company must pay a fee. That money will be used to fund public transit and housing.
MINIMUM: Parking minimums flourished in the car-crazy days of the mid-20th century. New buildings were required to include parking to keep street spaces clear. As a result, parking was almost guaranteed at home and at a person’s destination, making it the most reliable option.
MAXIMUM: The change in Mexico City will hopefully translate to a reduction in traffic, which would help ease air pollution in the notoriously smoggy city. And the new rules in Mexico City do require parking for one type of vehicle: bikes.
MINIMUM: Edmonton had some of the highest parking minimums in the country, with two spaces required per single-family home, for example. But last summer city council voted to cut parking minimums in half for many housing types and launch a review of all parking laws (like the one requiring churches provide a certain number of spots based on number of pews). Ottawa has made similar moves.
MAXIMUM: Reducing the requirements for building parking also eases the burden on affordable housing providers, who used to be forced to build out infrastructure that is not inherently needed for a home.