California Legislature Overrides Local Parking Requirements for Development Projects Within One-Half Mile of Public Transit
On September 22, 2022, Governor Newsom signed into law AB 2097, a sweeping override of local parking regulations for projects located within one-half mile of “public transit,” which is defined below. As to the policy reasons, the Legislature explained that mandatory parking minimums cause an oversupply of parking spaces and higher housing costs, as well as encourage car ownership and impede public transit use, thereby increasing traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.
Subject to certain limited exceptions, AB 2097 prohibits public agencies from imposing or enforcing a minimum parking requirement on a residential, commercial or other development project that is within one-half mile of public transit. This broad reference to “a residential, commercial, or other development project” means that AB 2097 will apply to new ground-up development as well as changes in use of existing buildings.
Only event centers and projects that include a hotel, motel or other transient lodging are excluded from the benefits of AB 2097.
AB 2097 goes into effect on January 1, 2023.
Definition of Public Transit. AB 2097 incorporates the definition of “public transit” from SB 375. Public transit includes a major transit stop, which is defined as (i) an existing rail transit station, (ii) a ferry terminal served by either a bus or rail transit service, or (iii) the intersection of two or more major bus routes with a frequency of service interval of 15 minutes or less during the morning and afternoon peak commute periods. In addition, public transit includes major transit stops that are included in a regional transportation plan and a transit corridor with fixed route bus service with service intervals no longer than 15 minutes during peak commute hours.
Local Government’s Right to Impose Parking Minimums. AB 2097 gives a local government the right to impose parking minimums if it can make specific written findings that not imposing or enforcing the parking requirements would have a “substantially negative impact” on any of the following: (i) the local government’s ability to meet its share of regional housing need under the housing element law for low- and very low income households, (ii) the local government’s ability to meet any special housing needs for the elderly or persons with disability under the housing element law, and (iii) existing residential or commercial parking within one-half mile of the housing development project.
The local government must make the required written finding, supported by a preponderance of the evidence, within 30 days of the receipt of a completed application. Even if the local government can make the required findings, a residential project is exempt from the local government’s parking requirements if (i) the project dedicates a minimum of 20 percent of the total number of housing units to very low, low-, or moderate-income households, students, the elderly, or persons with disabilities, (ii) the project contains fewer than 20 housing units, or (iii) the development is subject to parking reductions based on any other applicable law.
Other Local Government Rights. Local governments may also require projects using AB 2097 to provide parking spaces with electric vehicle charging facilities and parking spaces that are accessible to persons with disabilities. In addition, if the developer voluntarily includes parking, the local government may require (i) the developer to provide spaces for car share vehicles, (ii) spaces to be shared with the public, or (iii) parking owners to charge for parking.
AB 2097 is the latest in a series of bills that override local government land use regulations to increase housing production. These legislative efforts include AB 2011 and SB 6 (requiring local government to approve multifamily residential development in commercial zones), the Housing Accountability Act and the Density Bonus Law. Projects using AB 2097 may also qualify for a CEQA exemption or CEQA streamlining as a “transit priority project.” AB 2097 may be most valuable when used in combination with these other legislative tools.
If you would like to know more about AB 2097 or other laws affecting housing and mixed-use development, please contact any of our experienced land use attorneys.