No parking minimums: Montgomery Co. considers easing rules on housing near transit

Outdated. Overparked.

That’s how some council members in Montgomery County, Maryland, describe the decades-old zoning regulations that require a certain amount of parking spaces be provided when an apartment or condo complex is built.

This week, Council President Evan Glass introduced a zoning text amendment that would ease those requirements for future developments built near transit. The change would apply to those developments that are “within half-a-mile of a Metro station and a future Purple Line station, and also within a quarter-of-a-mile of future bus-rapid-transit stations,” said Glass.

He was quick to add the plan doesn’t remove parking spaces at existing developments and would not apply to housing projects that are not near transit.

“This is a very targeted approach for residents to have options as to how they commute around our region,” he told WTOP. “If people decide that public transportation is not adequate or that they have other needs that can only be met by a car, they’re going to choose to live in a place where they can have a car.”

Along with Glass, lead sponsors of the amendment included Council members Andrew Friedson, Kristin Mink and Dawn Luedtke. By the close of Tuesday’s discussion, the entire 11-member council had signed on to sponsor the amendment.

During Tuesday’s introduction of the bill, Council member Gabe Albornoz also spoke in favor of the change.

“When you look at our Gen Z population, there’s been a precipitous decline in interest in securing driver’s licenses at the age of 16,” Albornoz said. “We’re going through this in my house right now.”

Council member Marilyn Balcombe referred to the county as “overparked,” noting that in some areas, large expanses of parking go unused. Balcombe told her colleagues, “Any time I can support a market-driven approach,” she would. “I think that this is common sense and I support it.”

Council member Sidney Katz sounded a note of caution, saying that while current conditions may support easing the parking minimums in some developments near transit, there’s another type of homeowner that must be considered — those who have business vehicles that go home with them every day.

“We have to figure out where a person who’s in the trades — where a person who’s an electrician, where a person who’s a carpenter — is going to park their truck,” he said.

A public hearing on the zoning text amendment is scheduled for Jan. 16.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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