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Old Posted Mar 8, 2023, 6:02 PM
iheartthed iheartthed is offline
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NYT: Awash in Asphalt, Cities Rethink Their Parking Needs

American cities are trending away from parking mandates:

NYT: Awash in Asphalt, Cities Rethink Their Parking Needs

Local leaders across the nation are overhauling parking requirements for developers, scaling back the minimum number of spots for shopping centers and apartment complexes.

By Jane Margolies

The United States has about two billion parking spots, according to some estimates — nearly seven for every car. In some cities, as much as 14 percent of land area is covered with the black asphalt that engulfs malls, apartment buildings and commercial strips.

The fact that the country is awash in parking spots stems from America’s longstanding love affair with the car, compounded by arcane zoning codes that mandate off-street parking for real estate projects.


The idea that the country has an overabundance of parking may come as a surprise to residents of big cities like Chicago, New York and Washington, where drivers are routinely hunting for a spot, and sometimes even get into fights over parking spaces. Some worry that rolling back mandates may make it even harder to find that coveted spot.

But in city after city, minimum parking requirements, as they are called, are being struck down, thrilling progressives and real estate developers alike. “It’s snowballing,” said Jeff Speck, a city planner and the author of “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time.”

Despite pushback from some residents not ready to share their favorite spot, hundreds of cities, from Gainesville, Fla., to Anchorage have overhauled their parking requirements. Dozens have repealed them; 15 in 2022 alone.

Changes in work modes may be coming into play: The rise in popularity of remote and hybrid work arrangements means fewer office workers are commuting daily, decreasing the need for parking.


Off-street parking sprang up in the 1920s with the rise in car ownership. Concerned that there would not be enough curb space for vehicles, towns and cities started to require that stores or apartment complexes provided parking for customers and tenants.

In the postwar period, when Americans were in thrall with the automobile and the federal government unfurled highways across the land, parking minimums were enshrined in zoning codes to ensure that Americans would always find a paved parallelogram waiting for them at the end of their trip.

The rules were exacting: one parking space per apartment, for example, or one for every 300 square feet of a commercial building. It all sounded scientific, but these ratios were not based on any verifiable data about how many spaces were needed, said Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has been railing since the 1970s against the requirements, which he calls a pseudoscience.

Nevertheless, towns copied the rules from other towns until the requirements were codified across the country, and people started to think of free parking as a right. No wonder there’s even a spot for it on the Monopoly board.

But parking mandates encourage car ownership and use, Mr. Shoup said. They pockmark downtowns with stretches of asphalt that separate businesses and spread out cities, leading to more driving, and more parking, even in areas with mass transit.

The mandates also constrain developers, who need to allot precious space to parking, driving up costs that are often passed on to tenants and customers. Even a basic, stand-alone parking structure costs nearly $28,000 per spot on average, not including land, said Rob McConnell, a vice president at WGI, an engineering firm. And underground parking costs twice as much, he added.


Officials in Buffalo decided there had to be a better way. In 2017, the city eliminated minimum parking mandates for new developments, leaving it up to developers to figure out how much to provide. A 2021 study revealed that after the repeal, 47 percent of major developments provided 21 percent fewer spaces on average.

And projects in Buffalo that might not have been feasible before the repeal suddenly were, including one with affordable apartments that was built, coincidentally, on a former parking lot.

Other cities — seeing that “the sky did not fall,” as Mr. Shoup put it — followed suit. Some reduced minimum requirements, others did away with them altogether and still others went so far as to set parking maximums, according to the nonprofit group Parking Reform Network, which has been tracking the moves. Instead of parking, some developers provided allowances for mass transit and bike use or rental-car-sharing arrangements.


In December, San Jose, Calif., became the largest U.S. city to eliminate parking minimums, and Bend, Ore., repealed its minimums this year.

In some cities, the amount of parking may already exceed demand, according to a 2018 inventory commissioned by the Research Institute for Housing America, part of the Mortgage Bankers Association. The survey showed that there were 19 parking spots per household in Des Moines, and that in Jackson, Wyo., there were 27 spaces for every home.

There’s action at the state level, too. California recently capped parking in cities with robust mass transit, and Oregon capped it for cities of a certain size. In New York, a bill in committee would prevent cities, villages and towns from imposing exclusionary zoning, including parking minimums.

And legislation introduced at the national level, known as the Yes in My Backyard Act, would require recipients of certain federal funds to show that they were eliminating or reducing barriers to affordable housing, including off-street parking requirements.

“We need more housing, we need more density in certain cities,” Mr. Aulabaugh of Green Street said. “Converting parking or lowering the parking requirement, that’s how you get there.”

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Old Posted Mar 9, 2023, 8:55 AM
streetscaper streetscaper is offline
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This part of the article made my blood boil:

"Last year, Miami reinstated minimum parking requirements. “This is not a pedestrian and bicycle city,” said one commissioner who complained of people parking in front of his house."

That commissioner quote comes from this other article describing Miami's reinstatement of parking minimums.. disastrous!!
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