The Elimination of Parking Requirements in Transit Priority Areas for Multifamily Residential Developments has received the 2020 Transportation Planning Award from the San Diego Section of the American Planning Association for its important contribution to smart growth and the planning profession. An interview with San Diego Mobility City Planner, Claudia Brizuela, provided insightful knowledge to the process as well as the overarching necessity for the project.

One of the main objectives of the project was to create more housing availability in San Diego to address the evident housing crisis. In researching and formulating this project, the city focused not only on creating opportunities to have more development in areas by transit but also looked into incorporating long-term environmental solutions as urged by the newly adopted Climate Action Plan and SB 743 .“We want people to walk, bike, and take transit to work because we recognize those environmental benefits. Some of the other objectives in addition to the housing we were trying to implement, included the Climate Action Plan (CAP). We were also looking at greenhouse gas production and meeting state-mandated goals.”


To pragmatically implement the objectives, the project investigated other cities, programs, and data to quantify which factors were best suited for implementing the project’s multiple goals. “We primarily looked at vehicular ownership, and we used that as a proxy for parking demand. Since this project was not only looking at creating new housing but also trying to implement the CAP, we also looked at transit ridership and commute mode share to see how other cities compared to San Diego in walking, biking, and transit ridership”. Contrary to the project’s name, the project focuses not so much on the elimination of the parking requirements, but rather the requirements for new development transportation amenities. These amenities not only provide a direct benefit to the resident of a new multifamily development but in some cases, also provide a community benefit. “What we looked at were what our everyday errands are but also how we can incentivize bringing those closer together in areas to create what we call complete communities, places where you can live, work, recreate, and play. Some examples for the opportunities in mind include the likes of; outdoor fitness circuits, healthy food retails, and daycares”.


As with many other planning projects, collaboration and engagement were an integral part of the process. “We couldn’t have gotten in new parking regulations through City Council without our supporters. Pretty early on in the process, we made sure to inform them of the study and kept them engaged throughout the project, and really they were our champions. We got a lot of support from various groups and individuals, not only from housing advocate groups or downtown partnerships and the Building Industry Association (BIA) but also Climate Action Campaigns and Circulate San Diego. Not only did we see a variety of organizations come together for that main cause but we also saw how the project supported their own goals too”. Contribution wise, the project well embodies the principles of planning in looking at the big picture. “Rather than just deal with one thing, it’s necessary to look at the whole thing holistically. Yes we have this housing crisis, but we also have the goal of CAP as well as the need for incentivizing housing. This looked at everything under the umbrella and teaches future projects that it is possible to reach multiple objectives with one project, you just need to step back”.


Watch the interview below.

Link to project web page: