RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Developers won’t have to include parking lot spaces for new projects in Richmond anymore.

Richmond’s City Council voted to remove off-street parking and loading space minimums from the city’s zoning rules Monday night, allowing developers to build housing and other projects without providing a certain number of off-street parking spaces.

Before Monday’s vote, developers were required to build off-street parking spaces for projects based on the floor area, number of dwelling units or type of use.

“The parking minimums have contributed to urban sprawl, lack of abundant and affordable housing, and automobile dependency,” the city’s Department of Planning and Development Review wrote in an April 17 staff report.

The change to Richmond’s zoning laws doesn’t stop property owners from building off-street parking spaces for new developments, and it does not require them to remove any current parking spaces in the city.

Instead, the change will let property owners and developers decide how much parking a business or development would need.

The city’s planning department and Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration argued that ending the rule will help the city reach its environmental and housing goals as part of Richmond’s 300 Master Plan and that keeping it in place would limit its growth and affordable housing options.

“The space used for parking cars takes away space that could be used for additional housing,” the city’s planning department wrote in its staff report. “Parking minimums can be a cost burden on small businesses and discourage them from establishing in Richmond.”

One city resident who joined Monday’s Richmond City Council meeting virtually spoke in opposition to eliminating parking requirements, pointing to “very tight” on-street parking in Oregon Hill and arguing there’s a growing need for electric vehicle charging stations.

Several people spoke in favor of the change, including representatives from the Richmond Association of Realtors and the boards of the Partnership for Smarter Growth and RVA Rapid Transit, calling it a step towards bringing more affordable housing units to the city that also allows other forms of transportation besides people driving their cars to be more competitive.

City Councilmember Andreas Addison said he understood concerns over limited parking in certain areas but said the move could open the possibility of shared parking and other options.

City Councilmember Katherine Jordan said Monday that she is pursuing proposals for shared parking options in the city.