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Parking minimums would be relaxed in some Colorado communities under a bill passed by the Senate. • Colorado Newsline

A bill to relax minimum parking requirements, especially along the Front Range, was approved by the Colorado Senate on Saturday after sponsors narrowed the number of areas where the requirements would be eliminated.

House Bill 24-1304 passed on a 19-15 vote. Democratic Senators Rachel Zenzinger of Arvada, Jeff Bridges of Greenwood Village, Chris Kolker of Centennial and Joann Ginal of Fort Collins joined Republicans in opposition.

As introduced, the bill would have completely banned the enforcement of parking minimums at apartment buildings and shopping centers within metropolitan planning organizations. Proponents argue that mandating a certain number of parking spaces per residential unit could result in large tracts of unused asphalt, drive up development costs and reinforce people’s dependence on single-occupancy cars.

By eliminating minimums, the market could be left with appropriately sized parking spaces for individual development scenarios. That doesn’t necessarily mean no more parking, but it could mean less.

“The focus of this bill is on jointly addressing housing supply and transport choices, because they are closely linked. It recognizes that this is an integral, interjurisdictional issue in which the state must play a role,” bill sponsor Sen. Kevin Priola, a Democrat from Henderson, said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

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The bill was sponsored by Priola, Democratic Sen. Nick Hinrichsen of Pueblo, Democratic Rep. Steven Woodrow of Denver and Democratic Rep. Stephanie Vigil of Colorado Springs.

The bill passed the House of Representatives on a 35-26 vote, with some amendments to appease opponents, but largely unscathed. One of these amendments allows local governments to allow a minimum parking space in some new construction projects.

The Senate has brought the bill up for debate four times and repeatedly overruled it. On Friday evening, the ban was finally narrowed significantly to apply only to areas within walking distance of fixed transit stops, and the ban on commercial locations was removed. The House passed it by voice vote.

If you make it harder for people to park, you also make it harder for people to drive. When you make it harder for people to drive, there are a number of people in the state that make it harder for them to provide for themselves and their families.

The bill now applies to multifamily and adaptive reuse housing developments within a quarter mile of a light rail station, a rapid transit stop, or a stop for fixed-route bus service that comes at least every 30 minutes during peak hours.

“This bill will allow for the development of more affordable housing, increase transit ridership, and reduce traffic congestion and emissions,” Hinrichsen told Newsline.

Another bill moving through the Senate would encourage cities to increase housing density along transit corridors, which proponents of the bill say is in harmony with the goals of HB-1304.

Ginal, a Democrat who opposed the bill, tried to reduce that applicable radius to one-eighth of a mile, but was unable to do so.

“People who own a car and expect to be able to park it where they live are not bad people,” she said. “Established residential areas may not provide overflow parking for nearby apartments that do not have adequate parking. There are so many examples of this in Fort Collins.”

The pushback highlights some of the tension between various land use, housing and transit legislation and Democratic priorities this year — they envision a Colorado with reduced car dependence and greater housing density near transit, but that efficient transit systems exist not yet in many parts of the country. the state. There are a series of bills aimed at reforming transit and boosting funding this session, but it will take years before these goals are realized.

Most Coloradans don’t live where they can leave their cars and rely on other modes of transportation, opponents argue, so they need a place where they can reliably store their vehicles.

“If you make it harder for people to park, you make it harder for people to drive. When you make it harder for people to drive, there are a number of people in the state that make it harder for them to make a living for themselves and their families,” said Sen. Jim Smallwood, a Republican from Parker.

The House must sign the Senate amendments, or the chambers must work it out through a conference committee before sending the bill to the governor’s desk. They have until Wednesday to do that.

Linsey Toomer contributed to this report.