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Boston Councilors OK Elimination Of Parking Requirements At Affordable Housing Developments

The Cote Village Townhomes in Mattapan, an affordable housing project under construction in September.

Boston city councilors have voted to change a zoning code regarding parking minimums in an attempt to ease affordable housing development. 

The city council Wednesday voted unanimously to pass the zoning code amendment that would abolish the minimum parking requirements for projects with at least 60% affordable housing, The Boston Globe reported. The amendment still needs approval from the Boston Planning and Development Agency and the Zoning Commission. 

The ordinance was co-sponsored by District 6 City Councilor Matt O’Malley, whose district spans Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, and District 8 City Councilor Kenzie Bok, whose district includes Fenway and Back Bay. Bok delayed a vote on the ordinance earlier this month as the amendment was being finalized.

“We know that every unit lost due to delay or the cost of unnecessary, mandated parking is a lost housing opportunity for someone who badly needs it,” Bok said in a statement

Bok and O’Malley proposed the amendment earlier this year in response to three affordable housing developments that were halted by parking-related objections. A landlord and brewery owner jointly filed lawsuits against two affordable housing projects in the past year, claiming the city-granted parking relief would harm their businesses. One of the suits was settled, while another remains in Suffolk Superior Court. 

Some city councilors previously expressed hesitation over the zoning code amendment but didn’t speak against it during an October city council committee hearing ahead of Wednesday’s unanimous vote. 

In the past two years, 1,163 income-restricted units met the threshold for the new ordinance, a city official said earlier this month. Underground parking spaces at Boston multifamily developments can cost upward of $25K per space and unused parking at 200 area multifamily developments amount to 41 acres of pavement, or an estimated $94.5M in construction costs, according to studies cited by speakers during the hearing.