Brookline Town Administrator Chas Carey and Select Board Chair Heather Hamilton are pleased to announce that the Town of Brookline will further reduce residential parking requirements for certain residential developments thanks to the Town’s groundbreaking use of Massachusetts’s Housing Choice legislation.
The 2021 Fall Town Meeting approved, by majority vote, a change to Town zoning laws to allow reductions in the minimum amount of off-street parking required for residential developments in the Transit Overlay Parking District, an area where the availability of public transit makes off-street parking less necessary in some situations.
This citizen-petitioned zoning change also enables the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to reduce parking requirements for residential developments anywhere in the Town of Brookline under certain conditions, such as when adding additional housing units. The state’s Housing Choice legislation enables municipalities to approve zoning changes that support housing production with a simple majority rather than two-thirds voting threshold. This zoning change is the first example in Brookline that depended on this legislation, and it is being used primarily to boost housing stock in areas close to public transit. Eliminating unused parking areas also reduces underutilized heat-trapping asphalt in the community while facilitating the creation and maintenance of green space.
“Personal vehicle ownership is less common in areas with easy access to public transportation, and this change to our zoning bylaws reflects that reality, while also giving the ZBA and developers the flexibility to create more housing units in place of unused parking elsewhere,” said Carey. “This measure will help us keep housing options more affordable by reducing construction costs, give us the opportunity to develop more green space, and focus the Town’s growth strategically in areas that are best equipped to support it. I want to thank our Planning Department and the Office of Town Counsel for helping bring the community’s vision of a more dynamic Brookline to life.”