Thursday, June 24, 2010

Too much parking?

Tom Vanderbilt is at it again, with a series at Slate looking for ideas to make cities more nimble. Today he explores whether parking should be reduced, as opposed to increased. In particular the work of Professor Shoup

But to critics, minimum parking requirements warp markets and create a de facto subsidy in favor of driving. Donald Shoup, a professor of planning and author of The High Cost of Free Parking, is withering in his critique of parking minimums: "They distort transportation choices toward cars, and thus increase traffic congestion, air pollution, and energy consumption. They reduce land values and tax revenues. They damage the economy and degrade the environment. They debase architecture and urban design. They burden enterprise and prevent the reuse of older buildings. And they increase the prices for everything except parking."

The other thing about parking that I find most annoying is that it expands the space of buildings. You walk from one moat or parking to another. Parking changes the scale of our communities as much as the actual driving. Something to think about.


At 12:42 PM , Blogger Andrew said...

Charles - glad to see you commenting on this. This is one of my passions as a transportation engineering / planning consultant. I am a converted "Shoupista", or follower of the parking tenets of Don Shoup. A transportation/urban planning expert, his book "The High Cost of Free Parking" has really taken engineers and city staff planners to task on the parking minimums set for a variety of land uses. Minimum parking requirements are often based on questionable statistical realtionships (low correlation/relationship between actual parking demand and building square footage) and often have no bearing on actual auto usage in the area. Sometimes suburban-style standards that assume virtually auto-only arrivals are applied in a dense city context, where transit/biking/walking modes are robust alternatives).

Parking minimums hamstring developers, especially in urban settings, as constructing multilevel garage spaces often cost up to $15k PER SPACE. Surface lots are cheaper per space, so you often end up with what you see in the South Bay - low density buildings surrounded by vast seas of parking that are almost NEVER full. This requirement to oversupply parking is often used as a knee jerk way for planning commissioners and NIMBY neighbors to put the halt on an otherwise worthy development project. Fortunately, the transportation/parking/land development community is now finally opening up to the concept of shared parking for multiple land uses on a site (e.g. residential/commercial). The concept is to provide parking spaces on a site at a total that's less than if those uses are considered separately by considering the peak parking of each land use individually based on time of day.


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