Buffalo to Be First Major American City to Eliminate Parking Requirements

CC BY 2.0. Lloyd Alter/ Yamasaki in Buffalo

Buffalo is a wonderful city with great architecture, museums, restaurants. It’s got great connections by rail, highway, canal and seaway. It’s got lots of water and clean electricity. And you never ever have to worry about finding a place to park.

rush hour

Lloyd Alter/ Rush hour in Buffalo/CC BY 2.0

And now it has one of the most progressive zoning codes in the country, a “form based” code that regulates urban form instead of uses; as Robert Steuteville notes in CNU public square, “these codes are designed to improve the public realm—making it more human-scale and pedestrian friendly.”

millard fillmore

Lloyd Alter/ Millard Fillmore was here/CC BY 2.0

But the big news is the parking requirement: there is none.

"Many cities have selectively eliminated minimum parking requirements, such as Rochester, which eliminated them downtown. But Buffalo will be the first in the United States to eliminate minimum parking requirements citywide," reports The Buffalo News. It will stop forcing developers to build parking lots that damage walkability and let the market decide how much parking to provide.

Lloyd Alter/ Louis Sullivan was here/CC BY 2.0

The mayor explains how this will attract people back to the city.

We are seeing significant economic development and job creation in the City of Buffalo. We knew this would take it to another level, protect and preserve our neighborhood, and create a framework for development in our city that would help to develop properties in a way that citizens want to see.
Electric building

Lloyd Alter/ lots of electricity here./CC BY 2.0

Buffalo is a mess of surface parking lots and missing buildings, but changes in the rules like this encourage infill development, as on-site parking is expensive to build. But as Steuteville notes, it has great bones, affordable housing stock, a booming medical sector and it’s a short hop across the border to the booming Golden Horseshoe in Ontario.

credit: Lloyd Alter

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

I have written before that The real triumph of the city will be seen in Buffalo- it’s got everything that a city needs in a dryer, warming world. And now it has forward-looking zoning that will encourage development of a walkable city. When I was a kid we heard a jingle on TV all the time: Boost Buffalo, it’s good for you. Good to see that they are still at it.