Champaign Recognized with Planning Award

The American Planning Association – Illinois Chapter (APA-IL) has recognized the City of Champaign with its 2018 “Best Practice” Award for the City’s elimination of minimum parking requirements in and around Campustown and Downtown.

Minimum parking requirements are a land use regulation requiring each new building to have a certain amount of parking based on its size.  While such requirements are ubiquitous across the country, in recent years they have drawn criticism for increasing construction costs, negatively impacting the design of buildings, and inducing greater automobile traffic.  In 2015 and 2016, following data-driven analysis by the Planning and Development Department, the City of Champaign eliminated minimum parking requirements for residential uses within several core neighborhoods, including Downtown, Midtown, Campustown, and the surrounding high-density residential neighborhoods.

In 2017, staff conducted an analysis of parking supply at buildings constructed, permitted, or proposed since the elimination of minimum parking requirements.  For the 2,287 new bedrooms included in the study sample, staff found that developers chose to provide 562 residential parking spaces, a ratio of approximately 1 space per 4 bedrooms.  This number is half of what would have been required under the former minimum parking requirements.  Even with a lower amount of parking than was previously required, staff have found no evidence on parking overcrowding.  However, staff have also determined that the elimination of minimum parking requirements have improved architectural design as buildings are no longer lifted up on stilts.  The policy change has also reduced construction costs, which can translate into more affordable rents for tenants.  Staff’s full report can be viewed on the City’s website.

APA-IL recognized the City’s elimination of parking requirements as a “Best Practice” because Champaign is one of the first cities in Illinois to do so, has done so on a broader scale than any other city in Illinois, and has carefully documented the positive outcomes that have arisen out of this policy change.  Planning and Development staff will receive the award at the 2018 APA-IL State Conference in Springfield on Wednesday, September 26.

This photo demonstrates the architectural impact of eliminating parking requirements.  The building
on the left was built subject to minimum parking requirements, so the developer had to lift the
building up on stilts to accommodate the required parking.  The building on the right, built
shortly after the elimination of minimum parking requirements, is able to “come down to the street”
in front, presenting a much more inviting and attractive street presence.