News & Events

Success Spotlight: Reduced Parking Requirements in Richmond Heights

Author: Anna Chott, Sustainability Planner at East-West Gateway Council of Governments

Minimum parking requirements can act as a barrier to sustainable development, resulting in a lost opportunity for more productive land uses (as outlined in the popular book The High Cost of Free Parking, by Donald Shoup). However, changing policies to reduce expansive unused parking lots in suburban areas is much easier said than done. For the first time, the City of Richmond Heights is right-sizing its minimum parking requirements, as a result of the city’s comprehensive planning process. 


Richmond Heights’ comprehensive plan points out, "In some parts of the community, parking is compact and has created a walkable environment. In others though, significant parking around large commercial areas has created expansive asphalt, negatively impacting the environment and pedestrian safety."


Residents engaged during the city’s comprehensive planning process noted a preference for dense, mixed-use development and vibrant, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. Auto-oriented retail and shopping centers were least preferred when considering future redevelopment opportunities in the city. 


A growing number of cities and towns across the U.S. are starting to reform their parking rules. The City of St. Louis is considering changes to its zoning code near proposed Metrolink stations, including requiring slightly less parking, as well a context-appropriate increase in density.


Richmond Heights’ comprehensive plan points out "Typical municipal parking standards for retail development today are greater than what is now required. Particularly if new uses are added on or near retail developments, parking standards should be reconsidered, freeing up valuable real estate for new development." The parking lot south of the Galleria, in particular, offers an opportunity for mixed-use development which would be made possible by addressing minimum parking requirements. After the comprehensive planning process, a parking study was completed to better understand parking demand and activity. At the February city council meeting, Bill No. 5679 was approved to amend section 405.330 of the city's municipal code to right-size parking minimums and allow for shared parking. The change in the number of minimum required spaces is available here

For more information about reducing parking minimums, check out the tool for Parking Requirements in the OneSTL Toolkit.