Back in October, the Boston City Council approved a proposed text amendment to the municipal zoning code that would make an exception to the city’s off-street parking requirements for new affordable housing construction. The amendment then advanced to the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board, which approved it at its monthly meeting in mid-November.
The proposed exemption to the parking rule
Specifically, the amendment would eliminate the usual zoning requirement for providing off-street parking for residential developments when at least 60 percent of the project’s housing units’ rents are income-restricted to no more than 100 percent of Area Median Income. If it becomes part of the zoning code, this exception would significantly ease the process for affordable housing developers in the city.
Encouraging development, reducing traffic and pollution
Besides encouraging affordable housing construction in Boston, the change would also be in line with the city’s goals regarding transit and combating climate change, according to BPDA Director Brian Golden. Matt O’Malley, Council President Pro Tempore and supporter of the exemption, noted that the need for affordable housing in Boston is high. Half of the renters in the city are “rent-burdened,” O’Malley said, meaning they spend at least 30 percent of their income on housing and therefore often struggle to pay for other necessities like food and clothing.
“Eliminating parking minimums is an impactful and commonsense policy solution” to one of the problems that affordable housing developers face, O’Malley said.
The parking amendment now moves to the Boston Zoning Commission, which is expected to vote on it at its next meeting.