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Parking Minimums and Maximums

Best Practice Category:

Site Layout, Parking Layout, and Building Design Parking Management Transportation Demand Management


Reductions in minimum parking requirements are often applied in transit supportive districts in order to reflect the potential for reduced automobile ownership and usage among residents and commuters, given the close proximity of high quality transit services. Typically, these reduced parking minimums are applied to land use types that are better correlated with transit usage, such as multi-family residential, commercial office, and small-scale retail. Common approaches to applying reductions to minimum parking requirements include applying an overall percentage reduction to citywide parking requirements or establishing new minimum parking ratios that apply with the boundaries of the plan or transit station area.

Ennis Davis, AICP of
credit: Ennis Davis, AICP of

As an alternative to reducing minimum parking requirements, some cities have implemented parking maximums. Under the parking maximum approach, cities establish a maximum ratio for parking spaces for various development types. Developers then have the option to provide less parking than the maximum amount allowed.  Parking maximums can be used in tandem with reduced parking minimums to ensure that the minimum parking needs of a transit-oriented community are met while still encouraging walking and transit use.

Reducing off-street parking requirements results in more efficient use of land by freeing up space for other uses, such as public plazas, open space, affordable housing, or additional office, retail, or residential development. Increasing the buildable area can improve the overall economic viability and accelerate the pace of new development within the area that contributes to the overall success of a transit supportive development project.


  • Increase compactness of development near transit stations
  • Increase space available for more optimal land uses such as-affordable housing, mixed-use, community spaces, and parks/open space.
  • Reduce vehicle ownership and vehicle trips
  • Reduce paved surfaces may decrease the “urban heat island effect”


Pasadena Central District Specific Plan

Downtown Pasadena; Ken Lund
Downtown Pasadena; Ken Lund

The City of Pasadena’s Downtown parking management approach reduces parking requirements to promote the use of transit and alternative modes of transportation. Section 5 of Pasadena’s Central District Specific Plan requires the following minimum and maximum parking requirements:

  • Reduce the minimum parking requirement by 10% for short-term / high turnover parking (for example, retail customer parking) and by 25% for low turnover parking (for example, office employee parking). A parking demand study may allow for further reduction; the former minimum standard becomes a maximum requirement.
  • Apply the following parking standard to urban housing (48 dwelling units per acre or greater):
    • a) Units over 550 square feet shall provide a minimum of 1.5 spaces per unit to a maximum of 1.75 spaces per unit.
    • b) Units of 550 square feet or less shall provide a minimum of 1 space per unit to a maximum of 1.25 spaces per unit.
    • c) The parking requirement may be further reduced through a parking demand study and approval of a minor conditional use permit.

UTA TOD Design Guidelines

The Utah Transportation Authority (UTA) developed TOD Design Guidelines that include off-street parking ratio recommendations for various land uses under different types of communities (e.g. metropolitan centers, urban centers, town centers, and station communities).

UTA recognizes that a one-size-fits-all approach is not the most optimal method of addressing parking needs within the varying communities of a city.  UTA’s TOD Design Guidelines provides the following recommended reduced off-street parking ratios as a starting point to guide development within TOD projects:


Multi-family Residential (1 bdrm)

0.5 stalls/ dwelling unit

1 stall/ dwelling unit

1 stall/ dwelling unit

1.5 stalls/ dwelling unit

Multi-family Residential (2 and 3 bdrms)

1.25 stalls/ dwelling unit

1.5 stalls/ dwelling unit

1.5 stalls/ dwelling unit

2 stalls/ dwelling unit


3 stalls/ 1,000 sq. ft.

4 stalls/ 1,000 sq. ft.

4 stalls/ 1,000 sq. ft.

4 stalls/ 1,000 sq. ft.


1 stalls/ 1,000 sq. ft.

2 stalls/ 1,000 sq. ft.

3.5 stalls/ 1,000 sq. ft.

4 stalls/ 1,000 sq. ft.

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San Diego Transit Overlay Zone Parking Standards

The City of San Diego implemented parking reductions in its Transit Overlay Zone to provide supplemental parking regulations for areas receiving a high level of transit service.  The intent of the Transit Overlay Zone is to identify areas with reduced parking demand and lower off-street parking requirements in order to promote more efficient land use.  Parking requirements are reduced by 0.25 spaces per dwelling unit for Transit Areas or Very Low Income housing areas for multi-family residential land uses and as much as 0.7 spaces per 1,000 sq. ft. for commercial, offices, and mixed use land uses.

Sections 142.0525 and 142.0530 of the City of San Diego’s Municipal Code details the off-street parking ratio requirements for the Transit Overlay Zone.

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Additional Examples

City of Portland

Parking regulations which allow reductions in transit areas, where a transit plaza is provided in-lieu of parking, where trees are preserved, where bicycle parking is provided, and according to other conditions.

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