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Tool P-1: Tailored Parking Requirements
Tool P-2: Demand Management Measures
Tool P-3: Shared Parking
Tool P-4: In-Lieu Fees and Assessments
Tool P-5: Tandem Parking/Other Flexible Solutions
Tool P-6: On-Street and Off-Site Parking
Tool P-7: Landscape Reserves
Tool P-8: Waive Minimum Parking Requirements
Tool P-9: Parking Maximums
Tool P-10: Car-Sharing
Tool P-11: On-Street Residential Parking
Tool P-12: Integrating Transportation Demand Management

Parking is an essential part of new development in Marin. Most households have private vehicles, and most trips are made by private auto. Provision of effective improved pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure will, over time, reduce demand for parking, however, foreseeable demand requires that new development provide parking. Particularly for commercial uses, availability of parking is a critical factor for economic success. At the same time, however, parking has a range of impacts on the community and environment:

  • More parking leads to more traffic and congestion, by encouraging access trips to be made by automobile rather than other modes;
  • Parking takes up land that could be devoted to more compact development and open space, or built space capacity that could allow creation of additional housing units or commercial space;
  • Parking comprises a substantial portion of development costs, the price of which is rarely separated from other uses, increasing the price of housing and commercial rents and incentivizing driving, since one pays for parking whether or not one uses it;
  • Curb cuts for parking facilities can interrupt sidewalks and bike lanes and impede buses; and,
  • Parking lots and garages increase impervious surface area and stormwater runoff.

For these reasons, it is important that parking be provided in appropriate quantities, and closely matched to actual demand and the level of parking and traffic a jurisdiction can accommodate. The following tools can help ensure that motorists can find a space, while avoiding exacerbating the negative impacts.

By allowing development to succeed with less parking, these innovative parking policies can support many of the principles for TOD/PeD in Marin County (see Section B-3 Marin TPLUS Vision Statement and Principles), such as creating compact places and providing residents of all incomes with quality housing choices. It is important to stress that, with the exception of maximum parking requirements, none of these strategies would force developers to provide less parking. They would still be free to respond to market demands.

It should also be noted that these tools are focused on changes that can be made to the zoning codes of local jurisdictions. Additional strategies cover management of public parking, such as on-street meters and residential permit parking.
A technical memorandum has been prepared for TAM and the TPLUS Advisory Committee that provides a detailed overview of existing parking standards in Marin County.


Existing Efforts

Many recent planning efforts have already addressed the issue of parking standards. For example, the revised Draft Marin Countywide Plan, released in August 2005, and Draft San Rafael General Plan, published in January 2004, present a range of parking-related policies, including the adoption of more flexible standards. Some older plans, such as the 1995 Sausalito General Plan, also include policies for more flexible requirements.

In addition, many of the strategies represent “tried and tested” practice in Marin and have already been implemented in at least one town or city.


Where Are They Appropriate?

Parking strategies to promote TOD and PeD have often been seen as only applicable in large urban centers with intensive transit service. The potential policies discussed here, however, apply to a wide range of contexts. Some, such as credits for on-street parking or the greater use of tandem parking, have applicability across the County – even without minimum levels of associated density or transit service. Even where a community does not anticipate a significant level of new development, revised parking policies can be important in ensuring that changes of use or minor infill projects contribute to local goals such as traffic reduction, or the enhancement of the pedestrian environment.

Other policies are best suited to specific areas, such as downtowns or transit corridors with higher-frequency service, and will not be appropriate in all towns and cities, particularly in more rural areas. Where this is the case, it is noted in the text for each tool.

It should be stressed that many of these policies have been introduced in comparable contexts, even where transit service is limited or non-existent. For example, Petaluma, in Sonoma County, recently adopted major revisions to its parking standards as part of a wider shift to a new form-based code. These include eventual abolition of minimum parking requirements altogether and adoption of extensive design standards to ensure that parking does not impact the pedestrian environment.

The section is organized in response to stated issues and concerns, as follows:


  • Parking requirements often do not take into account variations in demand.


  • P-1: Tailored Minimum Parking Requirements take into account the substantial variations within Marin. They can consider the characteristics of likely occupants based on housing type and geographic location.



  • Parking is used inefficiently – many spaces are not available to those who need them or an excessive number sit unused.


  • P-3: Shared Parking. Most land uses have different times of peak demand, allowing them to share the same physical parking spaces at different times of the day and evening.
  • P-4: In-Lieu Fees and Parking Assessment Districts. Instead of building parking on-site, public parking can be financed by one-time in-lieu fees or annual property assessments.
  • P-6: Off-Site Parking. Allowing developers to provide parking nearby, instead of on-site, promotes shared parking and can reduce urban design impacts.



  • Parking consumes large amounts of land


  • P-5: Tandem Parking/Other Flexible Solutions. Tandem parking, parking lifts and valet parking allow more spaces to be accommodated on the same area of land.
  • P-6: Credit for On-Street Parking. Often, developments have many adjacent curb parking spaces that can be credited towards the parking requirement.
  • P-7: Landscape Reserves acknowledge that parking demand is uncertain; reserve areas can be converted to parking spaces if required in the future.



  • Parking has detrimental impacts on urban design.


  • P-10: Design Requirements aim to minimize the impact of parking on safety, aesthetics, conditions for pedestrians, and traffic flow.



  • Parking provision may not reflect wider community goals, such as reducing traffic and congestion


  • Reduced parking requirements can apply to developments that incorporate P-2: Demand Management Programs such as parking pricing and car-sharing.
  • P-9: Parking Maximums restrict the number of spaces that can be provided, for example to address congestion issues.



  • Parking requirements may make small-scale infill projects financially infeasible


  • P-8: Waive Minimum Parking Requirements. Instead of being specified by a town or city, the amount of parking provided would be left to the discretion of the developer.

Last updated: 6/30/2009 1:36:49 PM