A 37-unit housing development was approved by the Fresno Planning Commission on an empty lot at 1433 Broadway in the Cultural Arts District. Credit: Danielle Bergstrom / Fresnoland

Another empty lot in the Cultural Arts District is turning into homes. But the developer’s choice to provide little parking is a test to a growing statewide pro-housing strategy.

The Fresno Planning Commission approved a 37-unit housing development on Broadway and Stanislaus streets – sandwiched between the Mayflower Lofts and Kepler School’s recess yard – with just seven parking spaces. The development is a partnership between long-time Fresno developers Reza Assemi and Will Dyck.

The decision was appealed by Todd Wynkoop, real estate investor and attorney representing the owner of the Mayflower Lofts next door, over parking concerns.

This comes as Gov. Newsom signed a bill in late September banning cities from requiring parking for homes built near transit.

Pro-housing activists have long pushed for cities to reduce or eliminate parking requirements on housing projects near transit or in walking distance to major amenities for the added cost it can bring to a project, making some infeasible to finance.

California’s climate goals cannot be met without more people living in homes near transit – and using the bus, biking, or walking to get to a majority of their destinations, according to CARB analysis.

The site has a Walk Score of 88/100 – meaning that most trips are walkable, according to walkscore.com.

Despite Fresno’s relatively lax parking requirements for projects in downtown and along transit corridors, few have taken advantage of the benefits, says Dan Zack, a planning consultant and former assistant director of planning for the City of Fresno. Zack said, “This project is really pushing the envelope, from what I’ve seen, on parking.” 

Some Fresno developers have told Fresnoland that they don’t think their projects will be as competitive for tenants if an apartment doesn’t come with at least one guaranteed parking space.

Wynkoop noted that many residents in the area already park on the street.

“Tenants choose downtown living,” said Stephanie Say, with Paul Halajian Architects, representing the developer, at the hearing. “It’s not something that’s forced on anyone. People understand that when they rent those apartments, it comes with pros and cons,” she added.

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