Rethinking Parking Requirements
Most cities set minimum parking requirements which mandate ample off-street
parking for any new development. However, the provision of parking can
be a major barrier to creating more livable communities that adhere to
smart growth principles.
The Problems with Minimum Parking Requirements
Creates excess parking
Minimum parking requirements are usually set arbitrarily by city planners
from standardized transportation planning manuals, which typically measure
parking and trip generation rates in suburban areas at peak periods with
ample free parking and no public transit. These parking standards can
cause an oversupply of parking – taking up valuable land and lowering
the price of parking below cost.
Promotes automobile use
Providing plentiful and free parking encourages automobile use and discourages
walking, cycling and transit use. Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning
at UCLA recognized as a leading scholar on parking issues, compares minimum
parking requirements that mandate excessive off-street parking to “fertility
drugs for cars.” By generating more car trips, inefficient parking
requirements contribute to increased air pollution and reduced physical
Average development cost of parking (excluding land)
|Type of parking facility
|Multi-level above ground
Increases the cost of development
Requiring developers to provide large amounts of off-street parking significantly
adds to the cost of new development, especially in urban areas
where land costs are high. These costs are typically passed to consumers,
through higher housing prices and rents.
"Smart" Solutions for Dealing with Parking
Reduce minimum parking standards
Urban planners need to re-examine parking demand in urban areas where
land and parking costs are higher, and transportation alternatives
exist. Reducing minimum parking requirements will help to create more
livable communities by reducing the abundant supply of free parking and
encouraging transit use.
Establish maximum parking requirements near major transit stops
In areas well served by transit, planners should consider the use of maximum
parking requirements to limit the amount of off-street parking built.
These requirements prevent auto-oriented uses from occupying land near
rail and bus stations, and encourage the creation of transit-oriented
districts, or transit villages.
Unbundle the cost of parking in residential projects
Typically, the cost of parking is included in the home price or rent of
a condominium or apartment. Unbundling the cost of parking from housing
costs allows off-street parking to be priced in response to the actual
demand for parking, and lets consumers pay the cost of
their transportation choices.
Shared parking is an effective tool for reducing the number
of parking spaces needed for a project or neighborhood. Shared parking
strategies can be implemented within a new mixed-use development, through
simple agreements between adjacent, or through a parking management
district. Parking districts can also encourage pedestrian activity by
encouraging people to park once and walk from destination to destination.
Car sharing programs allow many individuals to share access to a vehicle.
Located within a housing development, car sharing can lower the average
household vehicle ownership rate, reducing the demand for parking. Several
car sharing companies are starting to partner with housing developers
to include car sharing programs within their new developments.