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Tampa Considers Changing A Parking Rule That Could Lead To More Micro Housing

Construction in downtown Tampa
Gabriella Paul
WUSF Public Media
New development in downtown St. Petersburg, where renters are facing rising housing costs.

The Tampa City Council will consider changing some of its parking requirements for developers at a meeting on January 10.

Supporters of the proposal say it would help boost the city's housing stock.

The proposalwould amend the language of a city ordinance that requires each residential unit in downtown Tampa to have an off-street parking space.

Mickey Jacob with BDG Architectsis Chairman of the Tampa Downtown Partnership. He said the requirement makes it a lot harder for developers to build housing because they need the space and funds to create parking for every potential resident.

His firm wants to build more “micro housing” downtown. Micro housing is a term for small condos and apartments that allow city-dwellers to trade space for cheaper rent or a short commute.

This type of housing is increasingly popping up in major cities across the country as high rents make it harder for middle- and low-income residents to afford a standard urban home.

Jacob and other supporters of the amendment want the Tampa City Council to change the rule so dwelling units that are 580 sq. ft. or less would only require half a parking spot.

"That's a 50 percent reduction, that just made a lot of our projects more affordable to build,” Jacob said.

Some worry that the change could make parking more challenging in Tampa, forcing residents in micro housing developments to take up street parking if they couldn’t find a spot in their building.

But Jacob argues many of the people who would find micro housing attractive are the type who would willingly give up their car if they were able to get to work and stores through other means like public transit or walking.

He said downtown Tampa is well on its way to accommodate that, but added that there needs to be significant transit improvements in the region to make it easier for residents who don’t work in the urban core to commute.

Jacob hopes funding from the sales tax increase that went into effect Jan. 1 for transportation projects will eventually help.

The Council unanimously approved the proposal during its first-reading in December. Since it’s a text amendment and not a new measure, Jacob said the change could go into effect very quickly if approved on Jan. 10.

Jacob was a guest on a Florida Matters show on alternative housing, part of the week-long "Growing Unaffordable" series WUSF aired in December.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.