Current Austin compromise means $2.6B of housing expense for parking

Parking is expensive, but not where it matters. While “free” parking is ubiquitous across Texas, we are all paying something for each spot.

In the City of Austin, the City Council actually requires for most people building a home to also build some parking for cars – even though we are in a generally acknowledged crisis of lacking affordable housing in affordable locations. According to City of Austin staff, the current equilibrium as of the CodeNEXT Version 2 draft will require about one parking unit to be added per each housing unit added over the next ten years.

We know from the Opticos estimates that we can expect 171,308 new housing units to be built in the City over the next ten years if CodeNEXT V.2 were adopted. As things stand, this would also mean 171,308 additional parking spots – as a required minimum and not counting all the parking required for retail, office, and other uses.

Averaging the varying costs of installing a driveway and parking spot at a house as well as installing multi-story garages, the cost to build a parking spot is apparently something near $15,000 on average.

If Austin City Council pushes forward with this generally accepted groupthink as one little detail of CodeNEXT, that would means that the City of Austin would require that entities – public, private, and nonprofit – invest $2,569,620,000 in parking for cars over the next ten years – as a cost of building housing.

This is as if the city council were floating a $250 million bond every year dedicated to making the option of driving alone in your car cheaper and more accessible. Imagine the benefits if this were instead invested in affordable housing in healthy, affordable locations.

Join us this Friday for a discussion of parking policy and regional growth.