File #: 2021-1401   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 11/2/2021
Title: Public Hearing to Consider Introduction of an Ordinance Amending Alameda Municipal Code Chapter XXX to Comprehensively Update Citywide Off-Street Parking and Loading Space Regulations and Make Conforming Changes to Other Zoning Code Sections, as Recommended by the Planning Board. (Planning, Building and Transportation 20962700)
Attachments: 1. Ordinance, 2. Presentation, 3. Correspondence - Updated 11/3



Public Hearing to Consider Introduction of an Ordinance Amending Alameda Municipal Code Chapter XXX to Comprehensively Update Citywide Off-Street Parking and Loading Space Regulations and Make Conforming Changes to Other Zoning Code Sections, as Recommended by the Planning Board (Planning, Building and Transportation 20962700)




To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council




Staff and the Planning Board recommend a comprehensive set of amendments to change the City of Alameda’s (City) off-street parking requirements from minimum standards to maximum standards, add new requirements for electric vehicle charging stations, and require transportation demand management programs for all large-scale projects adding new vehicle trips to Alameda’s already constrained roadway network.  The proposed amendments require changes to Alameda Municipal Code (AMC) Sections 30-2 Definitions, Subsection 30-4.23 Multi-family Residential Combining Zone, Subsection 30-5.18 Accessory Dwelling Units, and Section 30-7 Off-Street Parking and Loading Space Regulations.  The amendments are based on the City’s policies regarding transit use, climate change, and affordable housing, and are designed to implement specific recommended actions, programs, and strategies in the City’s Transportation Choices Plan, Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP), and the 2015-2023 Housing Element.  




AMC Section 30-7 Off-Street Parking and Loading Space Regulations establishes requirements for minimum off-street parking areas, loading areas, and bicycle parking areas in new developments.    


National and regional studies have shown that these types of minimum off-street automobile parking requirements significantly increase the cost of housing, undermine efforts to increase transit use and other environmentally sensitive modes of travel, and undermine efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the climate emergency.  A study by the City of San Diego <> of 21 affordable housing developments found that 39 percent of the parking, or over 400 spaces, were unused - at a cost of between $12 and $30 million.  A study by TransForm <>, a Bay Area transportation advocacy group, found over 28 percent of parking spaces at 80 multi-family residential buildings around the San Francisco Bay Area were unused - a waste of over 1 million square feet and nearly $200 million in construction costs.  UCLA Urban Planning Professor Donald Shoup estimates that on a typical construction site in Los Angeles, parking requirements reduce the number of units in an apartment building by 13% <>.  Finally, research by UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Studies <> found that “when parking requirements are removed, developers provide more housing and less parking, and different types of housing: housing in older buildings, in previously disinvested areas, and housing marketed toward non-drivers. This latter category of housing tends to sell for less than housing with parking spaces.”


In recent years, the City has taken incremental steps to address the negative impacts of the City’s parking regulations on housing affordability and the environment. 


                     In 2007, the City Council amended the parking regulations to reduce the number of parking spaces required for development on the Park Street and Webster Street commercial corridors in recognition that the City does not want to encourage demolition of existing commercial buildings to construct parking lots, and the City does not want to encourage addition of automobile curb cuts across the Park Street and Webster Street sidewalks, which would significantly degrade the pedestrian experience on Alameda’s two main commercial corridors.


                     In 2014, the City Council adopted new off-street parking requirements for Alameda Point, which established maximum parking requirements instead of minimum parking requirements.  The Alameda Point Transportation Demand Management Plan recognizes that the City’s goal is to manage transportation at Alameda Point and that to effectively manage automobile use at Alameda Point the City should restrict the amount of private parking allowed and maximize the use of public parking facilities, which can be effectively managed through parking pricing and revenues reinvested in the streetscape and improved transportation choices. 


                     In 2018, the City Council adopted the City of Alameda Transportation Choices Plan.  The goal of the Transportation Choices Plan is to reduce congestion at the estuary crossings and on-island corridors by increasing transportation options for Alameda residents and Alameda business employees.  The Transportation Choices Plan identifies changes to parking requirements as a high priority, near-term project. It states that abundant free parking encourages driving and disincentivizes a mode shift to transit, biking, and walking for those that have those options available to them.  (Transportation Choices Plan, p. 78, Project #8.)


                     In 2019, the City Council adopted the City of Alameda Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP), which showed that 70% of Alameda’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the Transportation sector, primarily private automobiles. The CARP sets aggressive targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction and calls for eliminating minimum parking requirements in order to encourage mode shift and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  (CARP, pp. 32-33.)  To accelerate electrification of remaining vehicle trips, CARP Action T6 (p. 29) calls for requiring new developments that do provide parking to install electric vehicle (EV) charging stations for residents and/or customers.


In June 2021, the Commission on Persons with Disabilities held a discussion on the possible elimination of minimum off-street parking and how to meet the City’s climate change, affordable housing, and transportation goals without disproportionately impacting persons with disabilities that rely on accessible parking.


Also in June 2021, the Planning Board held a study session and provided direction on an earlier draft of the proposed amendments. 


In July 2021, the Transportation Commission discussed the proposed amendments and unanimously recommended City Council adoption.


On September 27, 2021, the Planning Board considered the ordinance and unanimously recommended City Council adoption with a number of minor clarifying amendments pertaining to definitions, applicability of the ordinance under different scenarios, and consistency with other sections of the AMC.




Amendment Objectives:   The objectives for the amendments are as follows: 


                     Update the off-street parking requirements to reflect current City policy objectives and current (2021) market and development conditions in Alameda. 

                     Establish an equitable approach to the provision of parking for people with disabilities in new development.

                     Establish citywide requirements for electric vehicle (EV) charging facilities in new development.     

                     Establish citywide transportation demand management requirements for new development.

                     Create a more user-friendly and less confusing set of regulations that will be easier for the public to understand and for staff to implement, and result in fewer waivers and exemptions than are currently being requested with the current regulations. 


Major ChangesMajor changes proposed to Section 30-7 include the following:

Purpose and Intent.   Section 30-7.1 Purpose and Intent is amended to update the intent and public purpose of the regulations, which were revised to read as follows:  

a)                     To implement City of Alameda climate change, transportation, affordable housing, economic development, and historic preservation policy objectives established by the City of Alameda General Plan, Climate Action and Resiliency Plan, and Transportation Choices Plan;

b)                     To relieve automobile congestion and provide for the safe, efficient, and equitable use of the public street network by pedestrians, bicyclists, transit, emergency vehicles, and automobiles; and  

c)                     To reduce the environmental impacts such as air pollution, storm water runoff, urban heat island effects, and greenhouse gas emissions generated by automobile use. 


Maximum Off-Street Parking RequirementsSection 30-7.3 Off-Street Vehicle Parking Regulations revises and replaces the existing minimum off-street parking requirements with maximum off-street parking requirements.  With the proposed update, the project proponent or user will be able to identify the amount of parking that is needed for the proposed use of the site, given its location in the City, the nature of the use, and/or the configuration of the property.  A maximum standard is proposed because the City seeks to avoid too much off-street parking provided on any given site due to the impacts of large parking areas on the environment, the transportation system, and the cost of development in Alameda, which has limited land resources.      

The proposed maximum standards generally reflect the maximum parking requirements established by the Alameda Point parking ordinance, which has been in effect since 2014, and the amount of parking that has been approved for residential and commercial projects in Alameda in recent years.  

In recent years, it has been rare for project proponents to propose, and the City to approve, the amount of parking required by the current minimum.  The current minimums are simply too high and do not accurately reflect current 2021 parking needs.  As a result, applicants have consistently requested -- and the Planning Board has consistently granted -- parking waivers, parking reductions. The Planning Board and in some cases the City Council has approved reduced parking requirements for new office buildings in the Harbor Bay Business Park, new hotels in the Business Park and on Park Street, new businesses on Park Street and Webster Street, and new residential developments citywide.  With very few exceptions, all of the developments approved by the Planning Board over the last 5 to 6 years have required waivers from the current parking requirements, but each of those projects would be consistent with the proposed maximum parking requirements. The table below shows several recently approved projects, the amount of parking required by the current AMC, and the amount of parking approved by the Planning Board and/or City Council.

The proposed amendments include a process to allow the Planning Board or Zoning Administrator to increase the maximum limit for a particular project, upon issuance of a use permit, if, in addition to the findings in AMC Section 30-21.3(b), all of the following determinations are met:  

                     Transportation demand management measures will reduce the need for the additional off-street parking;

                     The additional parking demand cannot reasonably be accommodated through formal arrangements such as shared parking or reciprocal parking agreements that make use of   other available off-site parking;

                     There are unique characteristics of the users or the land use activity that result in a high level of automobile parking demand; and

                     The project provides positive environmental, social, or other community benefits that outweigh the adverse effects of additional parking, such as improving public safety, or improving and/or preserving access for pedestrians, cyclists or users of public transit.
In its decision the Planning Board or Zoning Administrator may impose such conditions as are necessary to minimize transportation impacts from the increased parking.

Minimum Off-Street Parking for People with Disabilities.   One of the stated intents of the proposed amendments is to provide for the safe, efficient, and equitable use of the public street network by pedestrians, bicyclists, transit, emergency vehicles, and automobiles.    Meeting this objective requires the acknowledgement that some people are more dependent on access to parking than others.  Ensuring an adequate supply of parking for people with disabilities is critical to ensure safe, efficient and equitable access.     


To address the need for an adequate supply of parking for disabled people, Section 30-7.4 Off Street Parking for Persons with Disabilities of the proposed amendments maintains a minimum standard for the provision of parking for individuals with disabilities. The minimum number of accessible spaces required by the California Building Code (CBC) shall be calculated based on the maximum number of spaces set forth in Section 30-7.3.  

To recognize that in some locations, such as the Park Street Historic District and Webster Street, it is not possible or not desirable to provide any off-street parking, the proposed amendments exempt certain projects that provide no parking and maintains the ability to waive the requirement for the minimum number of disabled parking spaces via a use permit.  In no circumstance can the CBC standards be waived.


Minimum Electric Vehicle Charging Requirements Currently the AMC does not include any standards for EV charging in parking lots and garages.  The Climate Action and Resiliency Plan recognizes the lack of standards as an obstacle to the City meeting its greenhouse gas reduction goals.  The City has been negotiating inclusion of EV charging on a project-by-project basis, but the results of that approach have not been consistent or adequate.  The 2019 California Green Building Code Update (Title 24, Part 11) increases requirements for electric vehicle charging infrastructure in new construction. 

The proposed standards in Section 30-7.5 Off-Street Electrical Vehicle (EV) Charging Requirements are modeled on reach code standards developed by the City’s own consultants with Peninsula Clean Energy, Silicon Valley Clean Energy, and the Statewide Program’s team to establish new construction EV requirements which are more in line with local EV adoption trends, tailored to Alameda’s needs while providing flexibility for the builder and keeping construction costs as low as possible.  As part of the Planning Board’s recommendation to further refine how the ordinance applies under different scenarios, staff proposes allowing the applicant of a 100% affordable housing development to request a waiver of EV parking requirements due to cost constraints.  This provision is similar to an existing provision in the AMC that allows waivers of parking requirements for affordable housing. 

Transportation Demand Management Requirements.  The proposed amendments in Section 30-7.7 Transportation Demand Management Requirements include a requirement for transportation demand management (TDM) programs for any large scale project that will result in a significant increase in vehicle trips on Alameda public roadways.  The provisions apply to projects subject to the Parking Ordinance that generates a net increase of over 110 vehicle trips on the adjacent public rights of way.  Any project that meets these criteria will be conditioned to the following requirements:

                     Include a TDM program, similar to the programs that have been adopted for all major projects in Alameda since 2006.   The specifics of the program for each project will depend on the project, but TDM programs for prior projects in Alameda have included requirements for participation in the Alameda Transportation Management Association, annual fees for supplemental transit services, and AC Transit easy passes for all project residents or employees.

                     Unbundle the cost of parking from the cost for the housing unit in residential projects of ten (10) or more units.  All off-street parking spaces will be leased or sold separately from the rental or purchase fees for the individual units for the life of the units, such that potential renters or buyers have the option of renting or buying a unit at a price lower than would be the case if there were a single price for both the unit and the parking space(s).  The proposed provisions are modeled on the provisions adopted for Alameda Point in 2014.  

Minimum Bicycle Parking. The proposed amendments in Section 30-7.6 Off-Street Bicycle Parking Requirements simplify and include modifications to the bicycle parking requirements to make long term bicycle parking more usable for those unable to lift their bicycle off the ground and accommodate more non-traditional bicycles such as cargo bikes and adult tricycles.




The City Council may:

                     Approve the first reading of the Ordinance as recommended by the Planning Board,

                     Approve the first reading of the Ordinance deemed necessary by the City Council, or

                     Remand the Ordinance back to the Planning Board to address any specific issues of concern to the City Council.




Adoption of this Ordinance will have no impact on the General Fund.




The Ordinance implements the Transportation Choices Plan and Climate Action and Resiliency Plan, and is consistent with the Land Use, Transportation and Housing Elements of the General Plan.




The proposed amendments are intended to improve environmental quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the City of Alameda Climate Action and Resiliency Plan. Furthermore, a loss of parking or a reduction in parking is not considered an impact to the environment under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).   Therefore, the proposed amendments are exempt from the requirements of CEQA pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15061(b)(3), where it can be shown with certainty that the proposed amendments will not have a significant effect on the environment, and Section 15183, projects consistent with a community plan, general plan or zoning, each of which provides a separate and independent basis for CEQA clearance and when viewed collectively provide an overall basis for CEQA clearance. No further environmental review is needed.




The proposed amendment is recommended in the Climate Action and Resiliency Plan and consistent with the Plan recommendations.




Introduce an Ordinance to comprehensively update citywide Off-Street Parking and Loading Space Regulations.




The City Manager concurs with the Planning Board’s recommendation.


Respectfully submitted,

Andrew Thomas, Planning Building and Transportation Director



Brian McGuire, Land Use and Transportation Planner

Allen Tai, City Planner


Financial Impact section reviewed,

Annie To, Finance Director



cc:                     Eric Levitt, City Manager