Code Amendment

Project to update Boulder's off-street parking standards

Project Overview

A comprehensive update to the city’s off-street parking standards has not been performed in many years, and as evidenced by collected data and continued requests for parking reductions, existing standards often do not reflect current parking needs in Boulder.

The purpose of the project is to update the city’s off-street parking standards to:

  • Reflect the actual parking supply and demand rates that currently exist throughout Boulder;
  • Require an appropriate amount of parking to minimize construction of underutilized parking spaces while also avoiding impacts associated with too little parking;
  • Reflect the multimodal goals of the Transportation Master Plan (TMP);
  • Coordinate and align parking supply rates with the city’s evolving Transportation Demand Management (TDM) goals and strategies;
  • Increase predictability in the application of parking standards and reduce the number of parking reductions requested;
  • Encourage efficient use of land;
  • Reflect changing market conditions nationwide.

Latest Update

In 2019, as part of the current City Council work plan, the final phase of the parking code changes was initiated. Updates to the parking code are intended to balance an appropriate amount of parking based on parking supply and utilization data collected over a multi-year period while also reflecting the multimodal goals of the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) and aligning parking supply rates with the city’s evolving TDM goals.

Project Timeline

Quarter 2 2020 - Shared Learning Stage (Share a foundation of information and inquiry)

  • Community engagement and initial public feedback.

Quarter 3 2020 – Options Stage (Identify Options and Evaluate Issues)

  • Preferred option identification and additional public feedback.

Quarter 4 2020 and Quarter 1 2021 – Decision Stage (Make a Decision and Communicate Decision and Rationale)

  • Recommendation to City Council for consideration, and potential adoption of code changes.
  • Note that timeline is subject to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on project schedules.


The project will primarily consider updates to section 9-9-6, “Parking Standards,” B.R.C. 1981 of the Land Use Code, and any ancillary sections as may be necessary.

Project Improvements

The project aims to complete the final phase of updates to the city’s off-street parking requirements, consistent with the policies of the 2015 Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan .

Intended Outcomes

Evaluate and codify changes to the parking standards in Title 9, Land Use Code , and the Design and Construction Standards (DCS) , including, as appropriate:

  • Revise the off-street parking statement of intent to reflect the community’s goals as adopted in the 2015 Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan;
  • Update the required minimum number of off-street parking spaces for various land uses, including but not limited to commercial, attached dwelling units, office, industrial, and mixed-use;
  • Explore adding a maximum number of off-street parking spaces to better balance off street parking needs with the market and potentially impacted areas of the city while promoting the use of more sustainable forms of transportation and more efficient uses of land;
  • Update parking reduction criteria to increase predictability of outcomes and reduce the number of requests. If parking maximums are added to the code, add criteria for parking increase requests;
  • Explore automatic parking reductions in addition to or in lieu of current parking reduction request process;
  • Create land use regulations to encourage shared parking between and within development sites;
  • Coordinate language between sections of the Land Use Code and DCS for clarity and consistency.

Project Background

Phase I: In 2014, as part of the AMPS process, the Land Use Code and Design and Construction Standards (DCS) were updated, including simplifications to vehicular parking standards; reducing vehicle parking requirements for warehouses, storage facilities and airports; and requiring both short- and long-term bicycle parking standards based on land use type.

Phase II: In 2016, the project team conducted additional parking supply and occupancy observations at 20 sites, including commercial, office, industrial, mixed-use, and residential land uses. These observations supplemented the more than 30 sites that had previously been studied. A range of draft parking rate recommendations, including parking maximums and minimums, were developed for consideration. The potential to coordinate and link the recommended parking supply rates with the evolving Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategy was also identified.

Currently, Section 9-9-6, Parking Standards , of the Boulder Revised Code provides standards for the amounts of motor vehicle parking spaces required to serve properties in Boulder. Current parking standards are based on the use and zoning district, the square-footage of the building, or other factors such as the number of seats in a restaurant or the number of bedrooms in an attached dwelling unit. Most areas of Boulder have a minimum parking requirement. Some areas in special districts such as Downtown, University Hill, and Boulder Junction do not have minimum parking requirements for commercial uses, and may also have maximum parking requirements. Typically, these are mixed-use areas that are walkable, transit rich, and served by on-street and garage parking.

The city requires TDM plans for some new developments. The purpose of a TDM plan is to mitigate the transportation impacts of new developments by providing programs, amenities, and services to employees and residents to encourage transportation modes (e.g., transit, bicycle, vanpool, etc.) that have less of an impact on our existing transportation system. TDM plan requirements for new developments are being evaluated to increase effectiveness and reduce off-street parking needs and number of vehicle trips.

In early 2014, an interdepartmental team of city staff began a new project called the Access Management and Parking Strategy or AMPS. Updating the off-street parking requirements is a component of AMPS. See more at: AMPS (Access Management and Parking Strategy) webpage.

The 2014-2019 Parking Study Technical Memorandum summarizes the study process and the collected off-street parking supply and demand data.

Potential changes have yet to be determined and are intended to reflect actual parking demand in Boulder based on collected data and align off-street parking requirements with the community’s goals as adopted in the 2015 Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan and 2019 Transportation Master Plan . Potential changes could include, among others:

  • Changes the amount of off-street parking spaces for various uses in certain areas or zoning districts in the city;
  • Changes to requirements for parking reductions;
  • Changes to requirements for both minimum and maximum amounts of off-street parking;
  • Changes to enhance provision of transportation options (walking, cycling, and transit use) in coordination with the city’s evolving Transportation Demand Management (TDM) goals and strategies.

Potential changes have yet to be determined. Depending on recommendations and public input, potential changes may change minimum and/or maximum off-street parking requirements for uses in some areas and/or zoning districts and changes for parking reductions requests, among others. Conversely, it may not affect the parking required for legally existing uses which continue to be legally maintained and operated as prescribed by the Land Use Code.

Community engagement activities will kick-off in in the second quarter of 2020 where community members will be able to share their feedback by participating in events and responding online. Community feedback will help inform recommendations made to City Council later in the year.