For-profit surface parking lots continue to spread in Detroit, like a disease, threatening to undermine Detroit’s resurgence. There is more parking now than at any other point in Detroit’s history. In fact, 40% of Downtown is nothing more than car storage.1 Even though parking lots inherently decrease urban density, safety, and walkability, more surface parking keeps being developed. Does that sound like the world class city we are trying to create? The place that people want to live and work?

Every acre of land dedicated to parking is an acre that can’t be used for jobs, housing, businesses or parks. And it’s not just Downtown. In Detroit’s neighborhoods, antiquated zoning requirements hurt developers and small businesses alike, preventing more sustainable parking management practice.

Consider the following:

  • 25% of Detroiters, over 150,000 people, don’t have a car available at home.2
  • Developers are forced to provide excess parking, even when they would rather build more space for housing and business, the cost of which is passed along to tenants and customers.3
  • Historic buildings Downtown are still threatened with demolition in favor of parking lots.4
  • Detroit’s municipal parking revenues do not always directly benefit the neighborhoods where they are located.5
  • Detroit’s commercial parking lots are taxed in such a way that discourages new development, practically ensuring that they will always be an unsightly parking lot.6

These troubling conditions require better policies that provide better balance for Detroiters’ needs, today and tomorrow.


Detroiters for Parking Reform calls for an immediate MORATORIUM ON NEW COMMERCIAL PARKING IN DOWNTOWN AND MIDTOWN, until common sense solutions can be achieved.

Our reform measures are designed to be realistic, implementable, and ultimately beneficial for existing business. And while our demands are focused on parking in the Greater Downtown, we recognize there are citywide implications as well, and offer additional recommendations that would create a better quality of life for Detroiters everywhere.

DEMANDS FOR GREATER DOWNTOWN (Central Business District, Midtown, New Center)

  1. Moratorium on new surface parking lots for commercial purposes and on vacant lots for any purpose until:
    • City of Detroit’s comprehensive zoning ordinance rewrite is complete;
    • Minimum parking requirements are eliminated;
    • Comprehensive parking study is complete, which must include baseline data on:
      • Census of all public and private parking facilities
      • Information about who parking spaces are reserved for / How many are open to the general public and at what cost
      • Utilization rates for each parking facility at various times of day and days of the week
    • Adoption of mobility management service plan requirements for private parking infrastructure; and
    • Evaluation of all publicly-owned parking facilities for redevelopment.
  2. Establishing mobility management requirements for developments seeking to build new parking structures that include the following strategies:
    • Parking cash-out benefits
    • Free or subsidized transit passes
    • On-site bicycle storage and maintenance facilities
    • Preferred parking for carpools
    • No reserved parking spots for individuals
    • No free parking for tenants/employees (everyone pays daily market rate)
    • On-site mobility options counseling
    • Keep at least 25% of spaces open to the general public during periods of peak demand

The intent of these demands is to continue to build on the positive momentum of Downtown Detroit by making better use of existing parking resources so that we can fit more jobs in the city, while encouraging less driving, reducing congestion, and reducing our carbon footprint.


Related to our demands for parking reform in Greater Downtown, we offer four citywide recommendations designed to offer progressive policies related to land use and parking designed to create a better quality of life throughout the City of Detroit. These include:

  • Allowance for Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) or qualified community development organizations (CDOs) to capture street parking fees to be reinvested in neighborhood beautification and promoting transit connectivity;
  • Empowerment of Detroit’s Municipal Parking Department to centrally identify, create, market, and manage public parking resources in neighborhood business districts, with profits reinvested in the neighborhood;
  • Evaluation and amendments to Detroit’s zoning ordinance, licensing, and taxing regimes for surface parking lots to discourage creation/promulgation of commercial surface parking; and
  • Support for a statewide split-rate taxing structure that would tax land and buildings at separate rates, and would encourage property redevelopment.

Our proposed solutions provide an equitable path for parking reform that touches on nearly all aspects of Detroit’s revitalization. By reforming the city’s approach to parking, we can design a city for all Detroiters, whether they prefer to drive, walk, bike, or use public transportation.


Detroiters for Parking Reform is an assembly of concerned citizens and affiliated organizations. We represent an alignment of interests demanding changes to Detroit’s current parking policies. We believe that by advocating for common sense parking reform, among other positive impacts, Detroiters can benefit from greater access to:

  • Affordable housing, especially in the city’s core, since land currently devoted to parking may be redeveloped subject to Detroit’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance;
  • Business Development, through shared parking, business clustering and urban density, businesses can attract talent and customers;
  • Healthier Environmental Quality, with fewer cars on the road per capita and more space for people, Detroiters get cleaner air and a more walkable city;
  • Historic Preservation, since much of Detroit was built before parking requirements, more of the City’s unique history will be saved from demolition;
  • Quality Architecture & Public Space will be improved, as resources for parking can be redirected to designing quality buildings and public spaces for people; and
  • Transportation Equity, since current parking policies incentivize Detroiters to drive when resources could be used to improve walking, biking, and transit options.

Detroiters for Parking Reform demands progressive action to sensibly address the negative impact of Detroit’s proliferation of parking over the last half century. Accommodating private vehicles to the detriment of a more balanced land use and transportation strategy is not good policy and actively hurts Detroiters.

We, the undersigned individuals and organizations represent Detroiters for Parking Reform. If you would like to sign on to this statement, please visit us at


Detroiters for Parking Reform