March 21, 2019


Newly elected California Governor Gavin Newsom campaigned on a commitment to build 3.5 Million new housing units statewide during his tenure, dubbing it a “Marshall Plan for affordable housing.”  The first step, a $7.7 Billion budget for programs relating to housing and homelessness would be the largest effort ever undertaken at the state level.

Oddly, parking may be one of the biggest obstacles to this bold plan. While transit and ride sharing options continue to grow and improve, they do not provide a full substitute away from car usage- at least not today. For the builders of California’s future housing, the cost of land and construction today make it extremely difficult to build multifamily projects with conventional parking. If a builder seeks approval for a lower number of parking spaces, they encounter neighborhood resistance by residents who don’t want their street parking clogged. Inevitably this slows down or kills the project and provides no solution to the housing shortage.

Automated parking lifts may be one of the most important answers to solving this problem. Popular in Europe and Asia for over 30 years, automated parking saves 40-80% of the space required for parking and up to 30% lower cost per space than conventional parking. This allows a new apartment building to provide more parking in less space, freeing up land for more residences.

Over the past four years, our company, CityLift Parking, has been building parking lifts for new housing projects in California and many other locations in the US. CityLift is currently building parking solutions for over 5,000 California new housing units in the Bay Area, Southern California, and Sacramento, including both market rate and affordable housing projects.

The primary parking lift used in these CityLift projects is called a Puzzle lift. Built in modules of 15-30 vehicles each and between 2-7 levels in height, Puzzle lifts can either be built into a new building or on an adjacent surface lot. If more spaces are needed, more modules can be built. CityLift’s largest project to date is 235 spaces in the Orion Apartments at Brooklyn Basin, which will be completed in Q2 2019.

“We’ve found that the ROI to use automated parking in our projects are tremendous,” says Mike Ghielmetti, CEO of Signature Development Group, a large multifamily developer based in Oakland, CA whose firm is leading the Brooklyn Basin project.  “It helped us to not only get our projects approved, but we were able to save space and gain back additional square footage to use for amenities within the property. We have completed six projects with CityLift and will most likely use automated parking on our future projects.”

“Given California’s ambitious goals we believe we are only touching the tip of the iceberg,” says Scott Gable, CEO of CityLift Parking. “We are seeing a record number of city planners, architects and builders asking for our assistance.”

Automated parking lifts may only be making a small dent in California’s housing shortage today, but they are an exciting step in the right direction.

To learn more, contact us here.

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