Brookline has something called a “Transit Parking Overlay District” - essentially areas close to MBTA stops, which encompasses most of the northern half of town. Currently, the zoning regulations require that each new residence built in this area have a minimum number of parking spaces. For example, a builder must leave space for 2 parking spots for each 2-bedroom apartment.
This creates an unnecessary burden and inflates the cost of housing. A group of concerned citizens affiliated with the group Brookline for Everyone has proposed a Warrant Article “Zoning by-law amendment: eliminate off-street residential parking minimums in TPODs”. Click here to read the proposed Warrant Article.
It’s well reasoned and well written, and I support this article. I won’t reiterate all the myriad reasons cited in the text, but these include reducing our collective impact on the climate, improving air quality, and improving street activity and neighborhood cohesiveness.
Instead, I’ll share my perspective as a real estate broker who both lives and works in Brookline. In this capacity, I know first hand that each person’s housing requirements are different. Not everyone wants or needs a parking space included with their housing. It’s just one more amenity, like air conditioning or a remodeled kitchen; very valuable to some and not at all to others.
In fact, many of the people who work with me choose Brookline specifically because they can walk, bike, or take public transportation to wherever they need to go. This bears out in the data as well: As noted in the warrant article, there has been a decline in car usage. I would anticipate that trend to continue or even accelerate.
Furthermore, it’s not small change that we’re forcing people to pay. The difference in purchase price between a unit with and without parking in the prime areas around T stops on the C and D line is in the ballpark of $100,000 or more - a significant sum for almost anyone! Especially on top of the already high cost of housing, it strikes me as unfair to require developers to include and residents to pay for such an expensive amenity if they don’t need it.
I would also point out that the fact that space must be given over to parking instead of additional housing units artificially constricts the supply of new housing and raises the price of housing for all of us. It would be better for developers to have the freedom to allocate the space in response to market demand.
In conclusion, I support this warrant article, and I would encourage you to voice your support to your Town Meeting Members as well.
Questions? Email me and let's set up a time to discuss your real estate needs.
AVI KAUFMAN is a top broker who lives in Brookline, Massachusetts and works there and surrounding communities, assisting buyers and sellers of residential property. He is building a unique practice dedicated to serving the best interest of his clients - see how he's different.